Reports: Kemba Walker reaches buyout with Thunder, will sign with Knicks
Bronx native and product of Rice High School in Harlem, Kemba Walker is coming home to New York City.
Walker has reached a buyout of the $73.7 million he was owed by the Thunder and will sign with the Knicks, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker has agreed to a contract buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and upon clearing waivers, plans to sign with the New York Knicks, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 4, 2021
OKC’s Sam Presti and Walker’s agents at Excel Sports, Jeff Schwartz and Javon Phillips, worked through buyout on the two years, $74M left on Walker’s contract in recent days. Walker gets a dream homecoming to Madison Square Garden to further solidify New York’s backcourt.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 4, 2021
That new contract is reportedly going to be for about $8 million a season (according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report) — that is a steal of a deal for New York if Walker can remain healthy.
One of Brad Stevens’ first moves as Celtics GM was to salary dump Walker to the Thunder (it cost him the No. 16 pick in this draft, and he took back Al Horford), but Walker wasn’t looking for a Chris Paul-style career rehab season in Oklahoma City.
Knee issues kept Walker out of the Celtics lineup to start last season, he didn’t find a rhythm until late, and even then he admitted it took a while to fully trust the knee again. Despite all that, Walker still put up numbers, and for stretches looked like the All-Star scoring machine he was in Charlotte, the guy lightning quick with the ball who can create space, finish at the rim with the best of them, set up teammates, and shot 36% from 3.
Walker averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists last season — he’s a huge upgrade for New York’s backcourt.
New York can now roll out a lineup of Walker at the point with Evan Fournier and RJ Barret as the wings — with Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks off the bench — and that looks a whole lot better than what they had a season ago. Combine that backcourt with the All-NBA bully ball of Julius Randle at the four, and throw in Nerlens Noel in the paint, and the Knicks look improved from the surprise team in the East a season ago. One that may not finish higher than the four seed they earned last season, but better built for the playoffs (where the Hawks dismissed them with ease).
Walker is a great pickup by New York. Now they just need to hope his knees let him play.