The former Hornets and Celtics star’s contract has been bought out by Oklahoma City, sources say. Kemba Walker is expected to reach a deal with the New York Knicks after clearing waivers.
The Good, and the Bad
A four-time all-star, and a native of the Bronx, Kemba Walker certainly fills the hole at the starting point guard position. Alongside fellow newcomer Evan Fournier, he brings veteran shot-creation and playmaking to a team comprised otherwise of scorers such as Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett.
The upside of this signing is immense: given a good roll of the dice, this deal may immediately seal a spot in the conference semifinals or later for the Knicks. Kemba, a star point guard, alongside an All-NBA player in Julius Randle and a number of competent young pieces, is a formidable concept.
Of course, concerns exist regarding Kemba’s health and durability. Small point guards tend to wither in their early thirties (think of Devin Harris, Ty Lawson, and others). Walker dealt with a myriad of injuries during his stint with Boston. By all accounts, his knee may be all but gone.
The acquisition of Walker may also signal a move towards winning now for the Knicks. But—and this is the ugly part—Walker doesn’t simply make the Knicks instant contenders. Indeed, he could be a gear in a deep playoff roster, but he’s nowhere near a focal point. Not anymore, at least. So, with all of this in mind, the Knicks cannot lose their heads about their situation. They must maintain a balance between planning for the present and for the future.
What does Kemba’s presence mean to this young team?
Kemba will likely serve much the same role that Derrick Rose filled last season: a strong contributor, and a savvy veteran. In addition, he brings a strong connection to the city—this is more of a homecoming for Walker, who actually played in Madison Square Garden in high school (coincidentally against Derrick Rose and Simeon).
Indeed, while he may not be putting up 26 a game like he used to, there’s no doubt that Kemba lends a certain star-power to this team. If he’s healthy, there’s nary a question that highlights will be plentiful: dimes to Randle or Mitchell Robinson; acrobatic kick-outs to shooters; killer crossovers… Walker only adds to the “must-watch” factor that is currently building in New York.
As it stands, the Knicks’ opening day lineup will include Walker, Barrett, Fournier, Randle, and Robinson—quite an attractive prospect for New Yorkers.
And, if nothing else goes well, what could be better than a long-awaited homecoming?
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