Eight years after drafting him to be the face of their floundering franchise, the Charlotte Hornets are watching Kemba Walker go elsewhere in free agency, with Walker signing a max deal in Boston to essentially replace Kyrie Irving. The Hornets now find themselves truly in basketball purgatory, especially after dolling out a three-year, $58 million contract to Terry Rozier to slide into Walker’s role.
Walker explained on Sunday night that he gave the Hornets “every single thing” he could over his time with the team, which is no consolation to a franchise’s fans who feel the organization didn’t appreciate Walker and his talents. But now that it’s all settled, the franchise is officially moving on.
Both Michael Jordan and Hornets president Mitch Kupchak released brief statements thanking Walker for what he did during his time in Charlotte and wishing him luck in Boston.
“On behalf of the entire Hornets organization, I want to thank Kemba for eight incredible seasons with our franchise,” Jordan said in the release. “He always represented the Hornets, the NBA and the city of Charlotte with class – both on the court and in the community – and we are disappointed he is leaving. He’s a special player, with a tremendous heart and tireless work ethic. Kemba is truly one of the best to ever play for our team. We wish him and his family all the best in the future.”
If those statements feel brief for a franchise player, it’s perhaps unsurprising that reports surfaced saying the Hornets lowballed Walker, offering him a five-year deal that was significantly less than the full max money he could receive. Walker may have had his eyes on Boston regardless, but being undervalued by your own team quickly pushed him farther away.