If Kemba Walker is not in the mix for the New York Knicks, it continues to decrease their point guard options this offseason.
Kemba Walker started to become a more realistic second option for the New York Knicks at point guard when the Kyrie Irving rumors shifted towards the Brooklyn Nets, who just opened a second max contract slot in free agency; but their odds at Charlotte’s long-time star hardly seemed guaranteed, either.
There may be options for Walker to consider outside of the Hornets, but if he leaves, the odds of a Knicks arrival do not appear great, according to SNY’s Ian Begley. He said, “going to New York isn’t a likely outcome for the point guard.”
This follows an interview with The Athletic, when Walker said Charlotte, his place of residence for the past eight seasons, is his first priority. He made the playoffs just twice with them since arriving in the NBA in 2011.
Aside from returning to his incumbent team, Walker will have the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers eyeing him in free agency, per the Charlotte Observer. All three teams own one max slot and have a case to sign him, whether surrounding talent for Dallas (Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis) and Los Angeles (LeBron James) or Indiana’s consistent spot in the playoff pack.
The Knicks, while a potential hometown return for Walker, offers more uncertainty, as they await Kevin Durant‘s decision and have to clear their roster for Anthony Davis as an alternative. The aforementioned places have contracted stars or core players to align with.
Maybe Walker waits for the Knicks to acquire someone before considering joining them and becomes that “second” guy, which would be his best situation as a pro to win a title.
Returning to the Hornets positions Walker as the clear-cut top star, again, and maintains familiarity. He may struggle to compete for the playoffs with them, despite nearing the eighth seed in 2018-19, but they can also offer him a five-year supermax contract, unlike the other 29 NBA teams.
The Knicks, and others can serve up a four-year, $141 million deal for Walker. It is $80 million fewer and one year shorter than what the Hornets may put on the table.
Without Walker, Irving and even Ja Morant — who could land second overall to the Memphis Grizzlies — it cuts New York’s point guard options. They can stick with Dennis Smith Jr., but there are outside alternatives. None of them have the star power of Walker or Irving or the intrigue of Morant, partially dampening an offseason that once seemed like a sure-fire home run.