Four-time all-star guardian Kemba Walker and the Oklahoma City thunder agreed to a contract purchase Wednesday morning, paving the way for the New York icon to sign with his hometown New York KnicksSources said ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti and Walker’s agents at Excel Sports Management, Jeff Schwartz and Javon Phillips, worked to reach an agreement on a two-year buyout and $ 74 million remaining on Walker’s contract. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, he can now step into New York’s remaining salary cap of around $ 10 million.
That Thunder acquired Walker, 31, from the Boston Celtics in June, which was Brad Stevens’ first big step after moving from coaching the team to replacing Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations. Al Horford in this deal.
Oklahoma City, which has built a war chest of first-round picks over the next several years, turned that 16th pick – one of three in this year’s draft – into two more future picks than that Houston Rockets acquired the choice to take over the Turkish center Alperen Sengun.
Now the Thunder can use the squad space created by Walker’s departure to give their fleet of young guards playtime as they continue their rebuilding. Rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander agreed upon to a maximum extension of five years earlier this weekSources said Wojnarowski, while the Thunders have also evolved Lu Dört to one of the league’s better defensive guards and drafted Josh Giddey and Tre man in the first round last week. you also have Theo Maledon, a second-round pick from last year’s draft.
Walker, meanwhile, is allowed to go home to New York, where he first played at Rice High School – where he once played against a new teammate Derrick Rose, then with Chicago’s Simeon High School in Madison Square Garden. He then built his legend as one of the greatest players in the history of the University of Connecticut’s storied program by leading the Huskies to five wins for the Big East tournament title at MSG in 2011 in five days – only to take the lead afterward to take over Connecticut for his third NCAA title.
He will now continue this story at MSG with the Knicks, with which he should move directly into the starting eleven as a significant upgrade compared to his predecessor. Elfrid Payton, and next to Knicks’ newcomer and former Celtics teammate Evan Fournier in the backyard of New York. The Knicks will rely on both Walker and Fournier to reinforce an offensive that struggled mightily in New York’s five-game loss Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Celtics traded Walker to Thunder as part of a pivot to give flexibility to the 2022 salary cap and better offsetting a roster that had turned heavily towards resource spending on Perimeter players just two years after signing up with a four-year contract a high of $ 141 million after Walker spent his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.
Walker, who reached the All-Star Team in his first season in Boston, spent the final season on a plan to treat his left knee, which caused him trouble for most of the 2020 calendar year. He completed a 12-week knee strengthening program after helping Boston reach the Eastern Conference finals in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida – a plan that stretched until the start of last season when the NBA started unexpectedly earlier than he and the Celtics had expected.
When Walker returned to the field, however, he continued to be an effective player for the Celtics, averaging 19.3 points and 4.9 assists in 43 games. Then he missed the last two games of Boston’s first-round series loss to the Brooklyn Nets with a bruised bone in the same left knee, an injury unrelated to his previous problems.
“It’s tough,” said Walker as he watched playoff games after Boston lost 123-109 in Game 5 in Brooklyn. “It was really tough, especially because I’ve played so many games in my career when I’ve been healthy.
“I came to Boston to take part in these special runs and high-intensity games and wild fans and unfortunately I couldn’t be there. Just try to be right. I have to do right.”
Now he gets the chance to do so in his hometown.