It’s been reported by The Athletic’s Jared Weiss that some NBA front offices view the veteran point guard as “having negative trade value.” Although that may be a bit rash, the sentiment aligns with the overarching assessment of Walker’s moveability, or rather lack thereof.
With two years and nearly $74 million remaining on his contract, the 31-year-old carries a laundry list of recent injuries compounded with decreasing production. Coming off his least prolific scoring campaign since 2014, the assumption in league circles is that Walker will be difficult to unload in a deal, with some outlets even floating the four-time All-Star as nothing more than a salary dump at this point.
With that said, long-time NBA insider David Aldridge isn’t buying into the assumption that the Celtics will find it difficult to trade Walker should they so choose to shop him.
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Aldridge on Cs Trading Kemba: ‘I Don’t Think That Will Be a Problem’
Never mind, age, injuries or expenses, Aldridge is here to rebuke the narrative surrounding Walker’s perceived trade value.
“I don’t think it’ll be hard trading Kemba Walker,” Aldridge told Adam Kaufmann and Evan Valenti, hosts of CLNS’s Celtics Beat podcast. “First of all, Kemba Walker’s a hell of a player — when he’s healthy, he’s a hell of a player. He’s a guy that will take and make big shots in the fourth quarter. He’s a guy who was an excellent defensive player at his position this year. So, I don’t think that will be a problem.”
While Walker saw a dip in production this season, he still managed to post a more than respectable stat line, averaging 19.3 points and 4.9 assists in 49 games. That scoring average jumped to 28.1 points over his final seven games of the regular season, while also registering six-plus assists in eight of his final 14 contests. His playoff showing against Brooklyn was far from a selling point, but his efforts late in the year showed there are still glimpses of prime Kemba in that 6-foot, 184-pound body of his.
“Point guard is everything in the NBA now. You’ve got to have one. You have to have an elite one to have any chance (at winning),” Aldridge noted. “Is he [Walker] elite? Probably not. But he’s right below elite.”
Lakers, Raptors & Heat Floated as Possible Suitors
While Aldridge isn’t certain what a return for Walker may look like, he speculated a handful of teams that could be in the market for the Bronx native, including the defending champs.
“He’s a really good point guard,” Aldridge said of Walker. “So if you told me the [Los Angeles] Lakers are trying to get him, I might go, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.'”
The biggest drawback in this scenario, however, is whether the Celtics would be willing to buy what the Lakers are selling. “Now the problem is I don’t think the Celtics want Dennis Schroeder back,” Aldridge projected, “but — you have to figure out how to make that deal.”
Schroeder, who ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported rejected a four-year, $84 million extension from the Lakers prior to the March trade deadline, is expected to be the team’s biggest free-agent piece this offseason. Multiple teams are expected to be interested in the guard this summer, who could be unloaded in a potential sign and trade, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (via Stadium).
Should the Lakers and Celtics ultimately pull off a trade, it would mark the first deal between the two rivals since 2004 (h/t Sports Casting). With that said, while history may point to a Kemba-Lakers deal being unlikely, maybe moving the former All-NBA third-teamer within the conference could prove more realistic.
“If you told me Toronto was trying to get Kemba Walker, I’d go ‘Yeah, that makes sense. That makes a lot of sense for them,’” Aldridge said. “They still have a window. They still think they can contend. If you told me we could replace Kyle Lowry with a fixed-cost player in Kemba Walker? Yeah, that makes sense for me with the group they have.”
“Miami, same thing, makes sense,” he added. “[Goran] Dragic is on his way out. They’ll probably re-sign him for short money, but they need a point guard long-term, and Kemba’s pretty good. So, there’s suitors. There’s teams that make sense to go get Kemba Walker.”