Kemba Walker trade: Five hypothetical deals involving Celtics guard
Examining five hypothetical Kemba Walker trades for Celtics originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Brad Stevens has a lot on his plate right now.
Just days after his new role as president of the Boston Celtics' basketball operations, the former head coach is working hard to find his successor.
But Stevens also needs to figure out what to do with Kemba Walker, who allegedly agreed to part ways with the team this off-season.
Trading Walker is easier said than done. He's missed 29 games this season with a knee injury that doesn't seem to be getting much better. He turned 31 in May and owes him $ 73.6 million over the next two seasons after filing his worst statistical season since 2014-15.
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On the other hand, the bar is high for Walker: he still averaged nearly 20 points and five assists per game last season and, if healthy, could be a starter or super-sub to a contender, which is supposedly the role he is looking for.
With Stevens busy finding a head coach, we thought we'd do Brad's job for him and put together five hypothetical offseason trades with Walker. Every deal has been rated a "success" by the handy trading machine at TradeNBA.com, which of course doesn't guarantee anything, but at least tells us it will work out.
Here are five teams who could orchestrate a Walker deal with Boston, and what each trade could be like:
1. New York Knicks
Celtics received: Nothing
Knicks received: Kemba Walker, Celtics' first round pick 2022 (lottery protected); Celtics' first round pick 2025 (top 5 protected)
Kemba Walker Knicks trade
Why it works: As The Athletic's Jared Weiss recently reported, Walker is likely to have "negative trade value," meaning the Cs will have to give up additional assets in order for a team to accept their contract.
The Knicks are well equipped for this as they can easily absorb Walker's $ 36.6 million salary next season with nearly $ 60 million in the cap. You're going to need a point guard badly if Derrick Rose goes elsewhere at the free agency, and Walker - a Bronx native who almost signed to New York in 2019 and knows how to deliver at Madison Square Garden - makes a lot of sense there.
Why it might not work: The Celtics would free up a ton of cap space, but Stevens could guard against receiving nothing in return while parting with two first-round picks. Tom Thibodeau may also dislike Walker's limitations on defense.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Celtics received: Kristaps Porzingis
Mavericks receive: Kemba Walker, Celtics' first round pick 2022 (lottery protected)
Kemba Walker Mavs trade
Why it works: This is almost perfect from a contract standpoint, with both players earning more than $ 30 million in the next season. It's also a classic "change of scenery" business.
Porzingis continues to plague injuries, but the 7-foot-3 forward is still only 25 and would certainly fit into the "shooting with size" form that Boston was looking for at the NBA close of trading. Porzingis gets another chance to reach his potential while the Mavs get a legitimate backcourt striker who can ease Luka Doncic's massive workload.
Why it might not work: Porzingis hasn't played more than 66 games in a season since his rookie year. Do the Celtics really want to replace an injured player with another - and keep paying him until 2023 (and 2024 if Porzingis exercises his player option)?
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Celtics received: Al Horford
Mavericks received: Kemba Walker, Celtics' first round selection 2022 (lottery protected)
Kemba Walker Thunder Trade
Why it works: Stevens raved about Horford's versatility and basketball IQ as a coach, so it would be fitting if his first step was to bring back the former Celtics big man. Horford has lost a few steps since the 2018-19 season but would be a much better option than Grant Williams in the four and would be a nice addition to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. His contract is only partially guaranteed in 2022-23 too, so the Cs could have some flexibility there.
The Thunder are the go-to place for NBA salary dumps as Sam Presti adds draft picks to his war chest by accepting Walker.
Why it might not work: Horford has just turned 35 and has a contract until 2023, then he'll be nearly 38 by the end of the season. One could argue that the Celtics are finding better ways to spend their money.
4. Chicago Bulls
Celtics received: Thaddeus Young, Al-Farouq Aminu, Tomas Satoransky
Bulls get: Kemba Walker, Celtics' first round pick 2022 (lottery protected); Celtics' first round pick 2025 (top 5 protected)
Kemba Walker Bulls trade
Why It Works: Full Disclosure: We stole this from Twitter (with a slight modification). The Celtics are turning Walker over for three expiring contracts, which gives them plenty of flexibility after the 2021/22 season to pursue a third star alongside Tatum and Brown.
The Bulls are getting a legitimate starting point guard to mate with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic while they watch a playoff push next fall.
Why It Might Not Work: Even two first-round picks may not be enough for the Bulls to part with three players on expiring deals. And if you believe in Coby White enough after his strong second campaign, you may not want to pay $ 36.1 million to a 32-year-old point guard.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
Celtics received: Patrick Beverley, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann
Clippers received: Kemba Walker, Celtics' first round pick 2022 (lottery protected)
Kemba Walker Clippers trade
Why it works: With Kennard and Mann, the Celtics get two more than 40 percent 3-point shooters and pair Beverley with his all-instigator colleague Marcus Smart.
The Clippers lack a legitimate third option outside of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Walker had no problem shifting to two all-stars in Boston. If he's healthy for the playoffs, he could be the piece that gets Los Angeles over the playoff hump.
Why it might not work: Beverly and Smart are a bit redundant, and the Celtics would need more points in their back space after that deal. And as mentioned earlier, the Clippers may not see Walker as their missing link after seeing him fight in the 2021 playoffs.
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American basketball player and coach
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