The New York Knicks have agreed to a buyout with guard Kemba Walker, who will join the Oklahoma City Thunder after they agreed to buy out his contract.
The Sources — Kemba Walker to join New York Knicks after guard, Oklahoma City Thunder agree to buyout is a news article that discusses the NBA trade between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New York Knicks. It also includes information about how much money was involved in the deal.
10:30 a.m. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker and the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to a contract buyout Wednesday morning, clearing the way for the New York City legend to sign with his hometown New York Knicks.
Walker’s representatives at Excel Sports Management, Jeff Schwartz and Javon Phillips, worked with Thunder general manager Sam Presti to reach an agreement on a buyout of the two years and $74 million left on Walker’s deal. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, he may now fit into New York’s approximately $10 million in salary-cap space.
The Thunder acquired Walker, 31, from the Boston Celtics in June, in what was Brad Stevens’ first big trade after replacing Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations. The Thunder received the 16th selection in last week’s NBA draft in the deal, as well as center Al Horford.
Oklahoma City, which has a plethora of first-round choices in the pipeline, then converted that 16th pick — one of three in this year’s draft — into two more in the future when the Houston Rockets acquired it in exchange for Turkish center Alperen Sengun.
As part of their reconstruction, the Thunder may now utilize the roster space vacated by Walker’s departure to provide playing time to their young guards. Sources informed Wojnarowski that rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander signed to a five-year max contract earlier this week, while the Thunder have also developed Lu Dort into one of the league’s best defensive guards and selected Josh Giddey and Tre Mann in the first round last week. They also have Theo Maledon, who was drafted in the second round last year.
Meanwhile, Walker will return to New York, where he excelled first at Rice High School, where he previously played against new teammate Derrick Rose, and then at Madison Square Garden with Chicago’s Simeon High School. He subsequently cemented his reputation as one of the best players in the history of the University of Connecticut’s illustrious program by guiding the Huskies to their third NCAA championship by leading them to five victories in five days for the Big East tournament title at MSG in 2011.
He’ll now get to continue that legacy with the Knicks at MSG, where he’ll be a big improvement over his predecessor, Elfrid Payton, and will play alongside another Knicks newcomer and former Celtics colleague Evan Fournier in the backcourt. Both Walker and Fournier will be expected to help the Knicks’ offense, which suffered tremendously in their five-game defeat to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
|Worst Situation Since|
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|— Stats & Information from ESPN|
Just two years after signing Walker to a four-year, $141 million max contract after spending his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, the Celtics traded him to the Thunder as part of a pivot to create salary-cap flexibility in 2022, as well as to better balance a roster that had heavily swung in the direction of spending resources on perimeter players.
Walker, who was named to the All-Star team in his first season with the Red Sox, spent last season figuring out how to manage his left knee, which caused him problems for the most of the 2020 calendar year. After helping Boston reach the Eastern Conference finals within the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, Florida, he embarked on a 12-week knee strengthening regimen, which he continued until the start of last season when the NBA unexpectedly started sooner than he and the Celtics had planned.
Walker was still a productive player for the Celtics when he returned to the floor, averaging 19.3 points and 4.9 assists in 43 games. He subsequently missed the last two games of Boston’s first-round series defeat to the Brooklyn Nets due to a bone bruise in the same left knee, which had nothing to do with his previous problems.
After Boston’s season-ending 123-109 defeat in Game 5 in Brooklyn, Walker remarked of having to watch playoff games, “It’s difficult.” “It’s been very difficult, particularly since I’ve played so many games in my career when I’ve been well.”
“I came to Boston hoping to be a part of those great runs, to be a part of high-intensity games with ecstatic spectators, but I was unable to do so. Simply attempt to get it correctly. I’ve got to get my act together.”
Now he’ll get the opportunity to do it in his hometown.
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