The four-time All-Star guard Kemba walker and the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to terminate his contract Wednesday morning, paving the way for the New York City icon to sign with his hometown team, the New York Knicks, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski. from ESPN.
Thunder GM Sam Presti and Walker’s agents with Excel Sports Management, Jeff Schwartz and Javon Phillips, worked to reach an agreement on the termination of the remaining two years and $ 74 million of Walker’s contract. Now he can join the Knicks with the roughly $ 10 million in space remaining from New York’s salary cap, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
The Thunder acquired Walker from the Boston Celtics in June, in what was the first big move made by Brad Stevens after going from coaching the team to replacing Danny Ainge as the team’s president of basketball operations, landing the 16th pick. in last week’s NBA draft while also leaving center Al Horford in the transaction.
Oklahoma City, which has amassed a large number of first-round picks over the next several years, then turned that 16th pick, one of three in this year’s draft, into two more future picks when the Houston Rockets acquired the pick to take the turkish center Alperen sengun.
Now, the Thunder can use the roster space created by Walker’s departure to give their fleet of young guards playing time as they continue to rebuild. The star in the making Shai Gilgeous-Alexander agreed to a maximum extension of five years earlier this week, sources told Wojnarowski, while the Thunder also developed Lu Dort into one of the league’s best defensive guards / guards and selected Josh giddey Y Tre mann in the first round of last week’s draft, and they also have Theo Maledon, a second-round pick from last year’s draft.
Walker, meanwhile, can now return home to New York, where he first starred at Rice High School, where he once played against his new partner. Derrick Rose, and then played for Chicago’s Simeon High School, at Madison Square Garden. He later built his legend as one of the best players in the history of the University of Connecticut program by winning five games in five days to win the BIg East tournament title at MSG in 2011, and following that by leading Connecticut to his third NCAA title.
Walker will now be able to continue that story at MSG with the Knicks, with whom he should move directly into the starting lineup as a significant improvement over his predecessor. Elfrid payton, and alongside his newcomer from the Knicks and former Celtics teammate, Evan fournier, on the back court of New York. The Knicks will be counting on Walker and Fournier to power an offense that struggled in New York’s five-game loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Celtics traded Walker to the Thunder as part of a move to create salary cap flexibility in 2022, as well as to better balance a roster that had leaned heavily in the direction of spending resources on perimeter players, just two years after sign him to a maximum four-year, $ 141 million contract after Walker spent his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets.
Walker, who was an All-Star in his first season at Boston, spent last season on a plan to manage his left knee, which gave him problems for most of the 2020 calendar year. He continued a knee strengthening program 12 weeks after helping Boston reach the Eastern Conference finals inside the NBA bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, a plan that ran until the beginning of last season when the NBA unexpectedly started earlier than he and the Celtics anticipated.
Still, when Walker returned to the court, he continued to be an effective player for the Celtics, averaging 19.3 points and 4.9 assists in 43 games for Boston. He then missed the final two games of Boston’s first-round series loss to the Brooklyn Nets with a bruise to the bone in the same left knee, an injury unrelated to his previous knee problems.
“It’s tough,” Walker said of having to watch playoff games after watching Boston’s 123-109 loss to Brooklyn in Game 5 of that series. “It has been very difficult, especially since throughout my career, I have played many games when I have been healthy.”
“I came to Boston to be a part of those special races and to be a part of high intensity games with the fans going crazy, and unfortunately I couldn’t be a part of that. I’m just trying to be okay. I have to get well. “
Now you will have the opportunity to do it in your hometown.