Kemba Walker may not want to unpack his bags, as the four-time All-Star point guard looks to soon be on the move once again. New York Daily News’ Kristian Winfield has reported that a league source says a “Walker trade is imminent, though it is unclear whether the trade will occur before or after the beginning of the 2021-22 NBA season.”
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Winfield’s report essentially echoes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski initial take following Walker’s arrival in Oklahoma City. The NBA analyst tweeted that the “Thunder can work with Walker on what’s next for him as they did with CP3 (Chris Paul), ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony) and Horford.”
Walker was traded earlier this month after two productive, albeit injury-riddled, seasons with the Boston Celtics. In the deal, Boston shipped Walker, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 Draft and a 2025 second-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for big men Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Despite an All-Star berth in 2019 and averaging 19.3 points and 4.9 assists across 43 games this past season, the Celtics apparently couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get out from under the 31-year-old’s max contract. Boston will save $9 million for the upcoming season thanks to the deal, giving exec Brad Stevens more financial flexibility moving forward.
With that said, could Stevens had held strong a tad bit longer for a more substantial return?
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Could Dealing Walker Yield Ben Simmons in Return?
Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey and Eric Pincus have at least floated the possibility. The two NBA experts joined forces to compile viable trade packages for the infamous Philadelphia 76ers All-Star, one of which includes a Simmons for Walker swap.
The Sixers would get a more traditional scoring point guard, one who isn’t reluctant to shoot the longball. Walker has struggled with some knee issues, but he’s a talented player caught in the fallout of a Celtics team in transition. Philadelphia would take a hit defensively going from Simmons to Walker, but the more significant issue appears to be Simmons’ fit on the offensive end with Joel Embiid.
Naturally, the Thunder would get some sort of draft consideration because Oklahoma City Thunder seems to have all the NBA’s draft considerations. Kenrich Williams would be an excellent add-in for Philadelphia from OKC.
Celtics Have Been Dangled as Potential Landing Spot for Simmons
Of course, Simmons has been readily linked to teams in trade talks since a horrendous playoff showing against the Atlanta Hawks — that includes the Celtics, who are in need of an upgrade at point guard following Walker’s exit. While Wojnarowski has reported that the Sixers appear hesitant to move on from the two-time NBA All-Defensive first-teamer, chances are the 24-year-old will remain engulfed in trade chatter throughout summer.
While the Celtics are likely ecstatic they were able to move off of Walker’s contract — which will pay him nearly $74 million over the next two seasons — it does strip the team of one of their bigger trade chips.
As Mass Live’s Brian Robb highlighted, the recently acquired Al Horford likely becomes their most logical trade piece. Yet, due to his struggles playing alongside Joel Embiid two seasons ago, chances are neither party would like to go back down that road. Marcus Smart and Tristan Thompson make sense from a financial standpoint, but that might be the lone rational draw in such a package from Philly’s perspective.