SIXERS

Why the Kemba Walker signing is good news for Sixers

SIXERS

As the Sixers circle the wagons and try to figure out any way possible to land Damian Lillard if he requests a trade this summer, they'll be hoping potential competitors remove themselves from contention for the superstar guard.

So when news came down from ESPN's NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday morning that Kemba Walker reached a buyout agreement with the Thunder and is planning to sign with the Knicks, the Sixers' front office probably celebrated with a collective fist pump. 

Check one more team off the list - probably, anyway.

The Knicks, who returned to the playoffs last season after being perennial losers, have a little momentum and despite returning a bunch of guys from 2020-21, there was some thought that a Lillard-New York connection could be feasible if the Blazers guard asked out.

Much of that was driven by a few quotes from Stephen A. Smith in recent days, in which the ESPN personality reported Lillard had his eyes on the Knicks if he demanded a trade.

"If he were to get traded from Portland," Smith said on Sirius XM Radio, "New York Knicks would be his number one destination."

After re-signing Derrick Rose and adding Walker, the Knicks' point guard position is a bit too cluttered to go after Lillard. Now, would basically every team in the league abandon their current plans and ship out whatever it takes to land the Blazers guard if he became available? Yeah, probably. So never say never.

 

But it looks like the Knicks' front office doesn't want to wait around and see if the Lillard situation comes to fruition - because it might never happen - and has moved on with its own plan.

As far as the Walker signing is concerned, NBA insider Jake Fischer reported Wednesday morning that he's been told the deal is for $8 million per year. That's solid value, and Walker will certainly bring creation and bucket-getting to a Knicks offense that became startlingly stagnant in the postseason. 

But this isn't prime Walker that New York is getting.

Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game last year on 42% FG / 36% 3P / 89% FT shooting. The field goal percentage was his lowest since 2014-15, his two years with Boston were his two lowest assists per game since rookie season, and his PPG last year was lowest since 2014-15.

Walker turned 31 earlier this year and is clearly on the decline in basically every facet of his game. He can still be a headache on a good night, but he's no longer some huge consistent threat.

In short: this doesn't hurt the Sixers too much, and will be very helpful if the Lillard trade opportunity ever materializes.