The Boston Celtics‘ front office and coaching staff have undergone a makeover early on this offseason. And by the sound of it, their roster will be soon to follow.
According to Brian Robb of Mass Live, the Celtics will look to trade away four-time All-Star point guard Kemba Walker this summer — a task easier said than done.
Kemba Walker is one of the most overpaid players in the NBA and league sources expect the Celtics to explore moving him in a trade to help create some current and future salary flexibility and reduce what is currently set to be the highest tax bill in team history (if the team wants to re-sign Fournier for market value).
Walker, 31, checks in with a $36 million price tag for the 2021-22 season, making him far and above Boston’s highest-priced player under contract for next year. The veteran point guard has a player option in 2022-23, meaning he could theoretically opt-out. With that said, it’s tough to see Walker passing up $37.6 million-plus with the current state of his career trajectory.
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Walker’s Trade Value… Non-Existent?
That’s the feeling around the league. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemp reported that Walker “is now not seen as an asset” on the trade market. The Athletic’s Jared Weiss took things a step further, noting that multiple front-offices “still view Walker as having negative trade value should the team decide to go that route this offseason.”
The takes may be harsh, but they’re far from shocking. While we won’t call it impossible, we’ve readily pointed towards Walker’s contract as being one of the most difficult trade pieces league-wide. An undersized point guard doesn’t typically age well, and that’s before you take into account his lingering knee issues.
The Celtics opted to manage Walker’s workload for the majority of the year, missing 18 games after making his season debut in mid-January. The decision looked to be paying off, as the UConn legend rallied off four 29-plus point outings over his final five games of the regular season. With glimpses of prime Kemba on display, it looked as if Walker would be able to carry over his hot streak into the postseason and quickly reestablish his league-wide value… a scenario that clearly didn’t happen.
Things quickly went south for Walker, who played only three games in Boston’s lone playoff series of the year, shooting just 31.7% from the field and an atrocious 17.6% from 3-point range. With Walker on the court, the Celtics were outscored by the Nets by a combined 54 points in the series. The Bronx native missed the final two games of the series with a left knee medial bone bruise that was initially sustained in Game 2.
Walker Looking to Regain Pre-Injury Form
Following the Celtics’ Game 5 loss, Walker revealed his eagerness to use the offseason to return to his once-dominant form.
“I’m really just planning on having a big summer, get myself feeling good again. It’s been a while since I’ve really really had time off. So this is really an important time for me,” Walker said.
“I’m just really going to attack [the offseason]. Just taking some time off, reflect on the year, just think about some things that I have to improve on, think about ways to just get myself back feeling good,” he added. “For sure, I need some time for that.”
While Walker’s limitations have certainly become more visible since coming over from Charlotte, he still remains a viable starting point guard. Chances are Boston will find it difficult to land a player this offseason that is capable of matching Walker’s 19.3-point, 4.9-assist stat line from the season, which in that case likely makes a return to Beantown in the best interest of both parties.