Kemba Walker isn’t the biggest name on the free agent market this summer, but the Charlotte Hornets’ superstar point guard is among the more intriguing names that will be available. The Hornets can offer him a supermax extension worth a hair over $221 million, but the team’s struggles to consistently win and the Hornets’ stubborn cap situation raises questions about whether there’s a ceiling on Walker can achieve in the city.
To his credit, Walker has made it clear he loves Charlotte and wants to stay there, something reflected in betting odds that make the team the favorite to retain his services. And in a recent piece by Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Walker once against stressed that his first priority in free agency is the city of Charlotte.
“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” he said. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”
“Charlotte is my home, man,” Walker said. “I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”
Walker went on to say that following the trip to Tokyo he’s currently on, he plans to sit down with his family and figure out his next steps. He also mentioned that beyond finances, the Hornets have a built-in advantage in trying to retain him — Charlotte is the only squad that can offer him a fifth year on a contract, which the 29-year-old Walker called “very important.”
A debate can be made that the Hornets shouldn’t give Walker a supermax, if only because a 6’1 point guard whose game relies heavily on speed may not age all that well, plus letting him walk means their cap sheet will open up in a big way once names like Nicolas Batum and Bismack Biyombo eventually come off the books. But it certainly sounds like he’d love to stick around the Queen City if they want to have him at the right price. Anything can happen, but Walker’s preference seems to be not having to relocate.
(Via The Athletic)