Celtics

Why Kemba Walker chose Celtics after considering Knicks in free agency

Celtics

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In an NBA offseason of great storylines, Kemba Walker signing with the New York Knicks would have been near the top of the list.

Walker grew up in the Bronx, just across the city from Madison Square Garden. He played a high school game at the "Mecca" and hit an iconic game-winner for UConn in the Big East tournament at MSG.

The Knicks had the cap room to sign Walker this past offseason, and the Boston Celtics guard admitted Saturday he toyed with coming home.

"It was [a consideration]. It was," Walker told the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy before Boston's matchup with New York. "They were definitely one of the teams I was looking at in free agency."

 

But the Knicks never even met with Walker, as the All-Star guard left the Charlotte Hornets to sign a four-year, $141 million contract with the Celtics in July.

So, why Boston over his hometown team?

"I just felt it was a better fit for me," Walker said. " ... I think it can be a distraction just because you obviously grew up there, you know so many people. But that wasn’t the case for me. It wasn’t even about that.

"It was just more about the fit and style of play and things of that nature and I just thought that Boston was the best fit and opportunity for me."

An obvious factor for Walker was the current state of the Knicks, who haven't had a winning season since 2012-13. The Celtics had their own struggles in 2018-19, but Kyrie Irving's departure created a perfect opportunity for Walker step in and be "the guy" for a serious playoff contender.

(Walker wasn't alone in spurning the Knicks: Irving and Kevin Durant chose the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets, while New York was left with B-listers like Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis.)

So far, Walker seems happy with his choice: The veteran guard admitted he was "blown away" by the TD Garden crowd in his home debut Friday night.

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