Kemba Walker and Celtics are both looking to end their relationship this summer, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (video link).
Former President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge began shopping for Walker after the team was eliminated from the playoffs last summer, Mannix says. He says Ainge and the front office were skeptical of Walker’s future after a knee injury he suffered in January 2020, lingering at the start of summer.
According to Mannix, the Celtics spoke to “several teams” about a deal involving Walker, including a potential swap with Spores to LaMarcus Aldridge. The incentive for Boston was that Aldridge, now retired, had an expiration contract, while Walker owed close to $ 74MM over the next two seasons.
Walker prioritizes loyalty highly, Mannix adds, and was “frustrated”
The Mannix report coincides with a story by Farbod Esnaashari of the Bleacher Report claiming that there is a “mutual agreement” between Walker and the Celtics to seek out-of-season trade. Esnaashari cites the Knicks and Mavericks as teams with the potential capacity to assimilate Walker’s $ 36MM salary for next year.
Walker, 31, is a four-time All-Star, but his production has dropped over two injured seasons in Boston. He went from scoring 25.6 PPG in his final year in Charlotte to 20.4 last season and 19.3 this year. He shot 42% from the field and 36% from the three-point range, which was his worst number in six years.
A sore knee forced him to miss the start of the season and he did not play his first game until mid-January. Walker missed 29 games this season and showed up at just 56 last year.