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Kemba Walker’s Celtics trade value is kaput

Kemba Walker, Celtics, Jayson Tatum

The Boston Celtics were just eliminated by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, and they quickly went to work overhauling their front office. In a stunning move, head coach Brad Stevens is moving into the front office and taking Danny Ainge’s place as president of basketball operations. Stevens will head up the search for his own replacement.

Stevens has some work to do to retool the Celtics after a disappointing 36-36 campaign and a first-round exit. One current problem is the decline of Kemba Walker, who still has two years and $73 million remaining on his deal. Knee injuries have zapped Walker of his elite play over the past couple of seasons. While he finished this regular season strong after a rough start, he got hurt again in the playoffs.

If Boston wants to trade Walker in the offseason, it’s going to be tough. Here’s just a sampling of reporting about his situation.

Via The Athletic’s Jared Weiss:

Multiple front-office sources across the NBA told The Athletic this week they still view Walker as having negative trade value should the team decide to go that route this offseason. That likely means a trade would cost the Celtics extra picks or assets to offload, even if Walker is universally admired for his relentlessly positive attitude and hard work through injury.

Via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps:

Either way, he’s now become a concern for Boston because he’s owed more than $73 million over the next two years. Walker’s trade value is now not seen as an asset, sources say, but as a player who can hopefully make a comeback. But that can’t be counted on.

Via HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto:

“They need to have internal growth,” another NBA executive told HoopsHype. “They’re pretty stuck when it comes to salaries. They’ve been trying to move Kemba Walker for a year now and no one is touching that. Their best bet would be to move Smart, but I don’t know what his market is. They could trade Brown to try to fill a different position, but that would be a bad move.”

That’s certainly not great, and it makes things more complicated for Stevens as he takes over as Celtics president. While having Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is a good start (they’re basically untouchable), there’s work to be done to build up a championship-level supporting cast.