The Boston Celtics made a big splash by signing Kemba Walker in 2019, swapping out Terry Rozier for him in a sign-and-trade deal with the Charlotte Hornets. While the intentions were good and made sense at the time, things just haven’t worked out for Walker in Boston, and the Celtics should do everything they can to find him a new home this offseason.
The rumors are already swirling, with one report suggesting both Walker and the Celtics want a breakup. While that got pushback from both parties, at the very least it seems clear Boston has been looking to make a move with the veteran point guard. The Celtics have two legitimate core pieces in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who are effectively untouchable, plus perhaps Robert Williams, but everybody else should be fair game.
Walker’s massive contract and recent run of knee injuries make a trade complicated, with many around the NBA viewing him as a negative asset. He’s owed over $73 million to finish out his contract, though 2022-23 is a player option worth over $37 million. The 31-year-old started dealing with a nagging knee problem last season and then dealt with the issue again throughout this season, appearing in just 43 games and getting hurt in the playoffs.
Speaking of the playoffs, Walker has never been a particularly noteworthy postseason performer. The sample size isn’t all that big, but he holds playoff averages of 19.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 41.2% from the field and 32.4% from 3-point range. Couple these numbers with his diminutive stature and defensive weaknesses, and you have a player with clear playoff flaws, even setting aside the health problems.
Walker is still a good player when healthy, so he could help teams that need an upgrade in the backcourt. He was an All-Star last season and was looking more like himself at the tail end of this regular season before his playoff injury. It’s just hard to set aside the recurring knee problems. Perhaps with a longer offseason this time around he’ll be able to get healthy again and be 100% ready for next season, but the concerns will persist. The best days of Kemba Walker are likely behind him.
New Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has some big decisions to make after taking over for Danny Ainge. Walker has been a good soldier and is a good guy, so it would be tough to move on from him after investing so much in him. Boston would prefer not to give him away or have to attach an asset to trade him, but again, his value isn’t exactly high right now. The Celtics will surely scour the market and see what they can find out there in terms of a deal.
It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Kemba Walker is still on the roster next season, but it would be best for the two parties to go their separate ways. At this point, the Celtics could use somebody more reliable next to their two young stars.