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Rumor: Kemba Walker likely to leave the Hornets in free agency

Golden State Warriors v Charlotte Hornets

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts after a play against the Golden State Warriors during their game at Spectrum Center on February 25, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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Kemba Walker has never had an All-Star teammate. He has made the playoffs only twice and never won a series. At 30-37, the Hornets are unlikely to reach the postseason this year.

If Walker wants to bolt Charlotte, he’ll have a chance in unrestricted free agent this summer.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

At this point, based on scuttlebutt around the league but without direct clarity from his side, it feels like he’s more likely to leave than stay.

This could be based on pertinent info. Players and their agents talk and send out feelers. Perhaps, Walker has tipped his hand.

But this could also be about wishful thinking and/or generalizing.

Most of the top 2019 free agents have been linked to a specific team or two:

  • Kevin Durant (Knicks, Warriors)
  • Kawhi Leonard (Clippers, Raptors)
  • Kyrie Irving (Celtics, Knicks)
  • Klay Thompson (Warriors)

If Kemba Walker isn’t returning to the Hornets, his free agency seems wide open. Many teams could see Walker as attainable. At least, they hope.

Charlotte’s struggles to build a winner around Walker would cause many players to leave. It’s easy to typecast Walker into that path.

But Walker also said he’d be “devastated” if the Hornets traded him last season. He has played for only them and could wind up the greatest player in franchise history (if he isn’t already). I believe he has a genuine affinity for Charlotte.

He also wants to win, and he’ll have a hard time doing that with the Hornets. Leaving in free agency is the quickest path to a better team.

I don’t know how Walker will balance competing priorities. I’m not sure he knows.

But the possibility Amick’s sources have insight into Walker’s thinking is what makes this intriguing.