‘Go-to Destination’ to Unload Kemba Could Reunite Celtics With Former All-Star

Thunder trade could reunite Celtics with Al Horford

Getty Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a three point basket against the Boston Celtics.

There has been speculation moving off Kemba Walker could be easier than previously expected. With that said, it’s difficult to truly envision a scenario where the Boston Celtics come away feeling fully compensated in a deal including their starting point guard.

Just one season removed from his fourth-consecutive All-Star berth, Walker remains a viable starter in the league. Although he may be coming off his least prolific campaign in six years, he still managed to finish 2020-21 amongst the 10-highest scoring players at his position (19.3 points per game). Unfortunately, injuries (29 games missed this season) and salary ($73.6 million owed over the next two seasons) will more than likely bog down the 31-year-old’s trade value.

With that in mind, many wonder if the Celtics wouldn’t be better off simply stomaching Walker’s salary in hopes that an offseason being further removed from his October 2020 knee procedure will help Walker regain his pre-injury form. Yet, if Brad Stevens were to opt for shaking things up this summer, could he possibly entertain a deal that would reunite the exec with one of his favorite players from his coaching days?

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Celtics Trade Kemba Walker to Thunder in Trade Proposal

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell, the Oklahoma City Thunder are the “go-to destination” for NBA salary dumps. With Thunder GM Sam Presti being infatuated with stockpiling draft picks — he’s accumulated 34 draft picks through 2027 — Hartwell floats the possibility of the Celtics dangling a future first-rounder to sweeten the pot in a Walker deal that would bring veteran Al Horford back to Beantown. Have a look:

  • Celtics receive: 
    • Al Horford, F/C
  • Thunder receive: 
    • Kemba Walker, G
    • Celtics’ 2022 first-round pick (lottery protected)

“Stevens raved about Horford’s versatility and basketball IQ as a coach, so it’d be fitting if his first move was to bring back the former Celtics big man,” Hartwell wrote. “Horford has lost a couple steps since the 2018-19 season but would be a much better option than Grant Williams at the four and would be a nice veteran complement to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. His contract is only partially guaranteed in 2022-23, too, so the C’s could have some flexibility there.”

With that said, Horford comes with his own potential drawbacks. Mainly the fact that he is owed $53.5 million on his contract through the 2022-23 season, when he’ll be almost 38 years old. As Hartwell put it, “you could argue the Celtics can find better ways to spend their money.”

Horford on His Way Out of OKC?

Horford, who spent three years in Boston, endured quite an interesting inaugural season in Oklahoma City in 2020. On one hand, the former No. 3 overall pick enjoyed a resurgence of sorts, averaging his highest point output (14.2) since 2015. On the other hand, he and the Thunder “mutually” agreed to shut down the veteran big man for the team’s final 28 games of the regular season. According to ESPN’s Royce Young, the decision was always perceived as a possibility and was “accelerated” by the injury to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

While Horford has remained a constant professional throughout the entirety of the situation, he sounds like a player potentially gearing up for yet another change of scenery this offseason.

“From the very beginning, (Sam Presti) has been open with me, transparent and they’ve made me feel like family here, very comfortable with everything, so I’m confident in the future that we’ll have great talks when the time comes,” Horford said, via Thunder Wire.

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