What gets lost in the conversation around the NY Knicks signing of Kemba Walker is the value of the contract.
New York Knicks fans probably don’t need much reminding, but Kemba Walker’s new deal comes with very little risk and an extremely high reward. The deal has flown under the radar in comparison to some of the mega-deals signed this offseason.
NY Knicks: Is Kemba Walker’s contract one of the NBA’s best?
The usual, knee-jerk reaction to the Knicks signing a veteran player who is past his prime is usually an eye roll, a scoff, perhaps a pretentious chortle.
After rumors that the team was eyeing some of the leftover point guard options in Dennis Schroder and Reggie Jackson, news broke that the team had signed Walker and it sent fans into a frenzy.
The contract details turned out to be a 2-year deal worth just about $9 million annually.
Baked into the contract is the risk. The risk of Kemba Walker being consistently hampered by injury. It clearly affected him last year.
However, when Walker was on the court, he remained a high-end starting point guard.
Kemba Walker appeared in 59 percent of his team’s games last season and posted averages of 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game.
The Knicks are hoping that Walker is essentially the same exact player he was last season. Kemba Walker playing 59% of the games and playing at the same level he did last season would be a resounding success at just 9 million per year.
Are there any other contracts that compare?
The first newly signed contract that comes to mind is Victor Oladipo’s 1-year, 2.2 million dollar “prove it” deal he signed with the Miami Heat this offseason.
Oladipo is coming off more injury concerns than Kemba Walker. Oladipo put up impressive averages last season but in just 33 games. He played just 19 games the season before that, and 36 games two seasons ago.
Oladipo, like Walker, isn’t coming in with sky-high expectations, but Walker’s 2-year contract seems like a better deal for the extra year and his fit with the team.
Technically, you could call any new contract a “risk/reward” deal. Evan Fournier comes with risk, but will pay off if he can stay healthy and produce at the same level he has for the past few seasons.
.There aren’t too many other “prove-it” deals that come to mind. Christian Wood’s 3-year deal last offseason was a risk/reward deal when it was first signed. At this point, that won already looks like a massive win for the Rockets.
Outside of young stars still on their rookie contracts, the NY Knicks signing of Kemba Walker may just be one of the best values in the league.
Best case scenario: He’s a star point guard. Worst case scenario: He’s an expiring contract next season and a $9 million cap hit.