It seems clear the Boston Celtics have no chance to re-sign Kyrie Irving. Of course, this might not necessarily be a bad thing. Although it would sound ungrateful for them to say so, some believe the Celtics really don’t have much interest in doing that. You know, it was nice while it lasted, good luck to you in the future.
So while the speculation builds about where Irving might land – Brooklyn seems to be getting a lot of the reps here – the focus has turned to who Boston might have in mind to replace him.
And one name has continually been mentioned – Kemba Walker.
Folks, this would be a major upgrade for the Celtics. Walker is a dynamic scorer and great with the ball. Once he gets wound up, it’s difficult for anyone to stop him and someone with his propensity for production would fit in very nicely at TD Garden.
After originally saying he was interested in staying in Charlotte, that he might even be willing to take a home discount, the Hornets have made it clear they’re not really interested in paying Walker what he needs.
“How can they not be (his top priority)? I don’t understand,” Walker said earlier in June. “I don’t understand how they can’t be my priority, man. I’ve been here for eight years, the team that’s drafted me. So yeah it’s my first priority. I don’t know if I will sign back with them. I’m not sure. But they are my first priority, yeah.”
And when we say the Hornets might not be as interested, what we really mean is owner Michael Jordan.
“You have to kind of play it by ear,” Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said. “I’m not aware of what his (Walker) plan is. It’s not like we have to sit down and show him the city, right? And recruit him. He’s been here. He knows what it’s all about. He knows I’m here. He knows who the owner is. He knows who the coach is. Maybe we can get something done very quickly and then he meets with nobody or maybe he has six, seven things set up. And then he meets with two or three and we get something done and he cancels the rest. Or maybe he meets with everybody and we are the last visit.
“So there’s a lot of different things that can happen. Technically, we are not allowed to have a lot of meetings like that with the agent to plan things like that out. All we can do is state our intention and when July 1 rolls around act as quickly as possible.”
Walker is a three-time All-Star and if he signs it will likely be for four years and $141 million. That’s well worth it for Boston, considering they won’t need to pay Irving or Al Horford, who declined his player option shortly after the NBA Finals.
We can see Walker and Celtics coach Brad Stevens forming a nice pair. Stevens seems to work well with point guards. Those who are close to the team point to how well Jordan Crawford and Isaiah Thomas played for him.
If there is style to point guards, Walker is more the aggressive guy, known as much for taking the ball to the iron as he is for his three-point shooting. He creates a lot of space for himself on the perimeter because of his speed and the threat it creates for penetration.
Those who doubt what Walker’s impact on the Celtics could be obviously didn’t watch Charlotte’s offense turn into a cement mixer when he wasn’t on the floor. Without a great supporting cast, Walker helped Charlotte become the NBA’s 11th-ranked offense. He’s as adept a passer as he is a scorer. His points for possession last season totaled 1.007. Only Paul George, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry were better.
The Athletic accurately detailed Walker’s assets, particularly as they related to his skill at the pick-and-roll. You could envision Stevens adapting his offense to fit what Walker can do best. And he’d be well-advised to do so, even if it means taking the ball out of the talented hands of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Walker, 29, has been an All-Star three straight seasons and was a third-team All-NBA selection in 2018-19. He’ll mesh with Tatum, Brown and Gordon Hayward, especially if the Celtics find some front court help, to replicate the offense the way it looked with Irving and Horford on the floor.
Anyway, Walker and his agent are expected to be on the line with Boston general manager as soon as the free agent season starts on Sunday. The Celtics know Walker is coming off his best season, averaging 25.8 points and playing in every game.
“I don’t know how many times I can say that,” Walker said earlier in June. “I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how many times I can say it. But if it doesn’t work out I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else. But yes, I would love to be in Charlotte.”