More layers continue to unfold in the Kemba Walker saga. Less than 24 hours after it was reported that the Boston Celtics and their point guard will look to part ways this offseason, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix revealed the Cs have actually been exploring moving on from the 31-year-old for “several months” now.
The NBA insider joined NBC Sports Boston to discuss the brewing frustration between Walker and the organization — evidently stemming from recent trade discussions, one of which reportedly included former seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.
“The Celtics front office was looking for a way to get out from under that contract, and ultimately were not able to do that despite having conversations with multiple teams over the last several months,” Mannix informed host Trenni Kusnierek. “I was told they discussed a deal involving Kemba Walker and LaMarcus Aldridge when Aldridge was still in San Antonio. [This was] primarily because Aldridge was on the last year of his contract, whereas Kemba Walker has two years currently and about $76 million remaining on this contract. That frustrated Kemba Walker.”
Of course, the trade never materialized between the two parties. Aldridge would go on to be bought out of his contract with the Spurs and sign with the Brooklyn Nets. However, after five games with his new team, the 35-year-old abruptly retired due to concerns regarding an irregular heartbeat.
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Walker’s Frustration With Boston
Walker, who Mannix dubbed one of the “most loyal guys in professional sports,” clearly doesn’t feel that loyalty has been reciprocated from the Celtics organization. “For Kemba to hear his name and understand his name was in trade rumors, that absolutely has frustrated him over the last six to eight months,” Mannix stated.
This report echoes Bleacher Report’s from the day prior, highlighting Walker’s budding frustration of continuously being brought up in trade talks.
“A source close to Walker said he was hurt by Boston’s efforts to trade him, which created a rift in the Walker-Ainge relationship,” wrote B/R insider Esnaashari. “Walker has a great relationship with his teammates and looked forward to being a veteran mentor to Tatum and Brown, but the same can’t be said about Walker and the front office. He no longer feels wanted.”
Difficulties of Trading Walker
This is now the second reported failed trade to surface within the last few days involving Walker. Esnaashari noted that the Celtics offered the veteran point guard to the New Orleans Pelicans this past offseason in hopes of yielding the services of Jrue Holiday in return.
The fact of the matter is, it’s easy to say the Celtics should move on from Walker. Hell, it’s easy for both he and the organization to mutually agree that a divorce is in both of their best interests. Yet, when it comes down to it, finding a suitor that can stomach Walker’s increasing contract and also reimburse Boston even remotely adequately will be a difficult task.
As The Athletic’s Jared Weiss put it, many within the league “still view Walker as having negative trade value.”