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Kemba Walker says he’d accept less than super-max contract to help Hornets

Charlotte Hornets v Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 15: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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The Hornets are Kemba Walker’s priority. Walker is the Hornets’ priority.

It looks like a match.

Walker can re-sign with Charlotte on a five-year super-max contract projected to be worth $221 million. He earned super-max eligibility by making an All-NBA team this season. Players generally want to be rewarded for that accomplishment, both for the money and the prestige.

But Walker sounds open to concessions.

Rod Boone of The Athletic:

Not everyone has the heart for a tough contract negotiation (which differs from the heart necessary to succeed as a player, of which Walker has plenty). It can be especially difficult to publicly put personal salary demands over team success.

But this is why players hire agents, to do that dirty work.

Remember, Walker wanted to accept even less on his current contract extension. His agent talked him out of it. We’ll see how hard Walker pushes in free agency this summer, but he’ll have an advisor more focused on the bottom line.

Walker can do whatever he wants. If he’s happy getting paid less, more power to him.

But he should be careful about getting played for a sucker.

Charlotte will be capped out, with or without him. If Walker accepts less than the max, the Hornets will open no additional cap space. They’ll still be limited to the mid-level exception. The main spending limits will be real dollar, not salary-cap constraints.

Under Michael Jordan’s ownership, the Hornets have never paid the luxury tax. They could super-max-out Walker and still build similarly around him – if they were willing to pay more. Why should the burden of funding the supporting cast fall to Walker? When has Charlotte shown a willingness to make the financial sacrifice in the name of winning?

Walker taking a discount could help more in future years, but he’s in his prime. He surely wants to win now. I wouldn’t trust the Hornets to take advantage of a little extra flexibility at some unknown point down the road.