If you’ve been following along with us the past week or so, you know that I’ve been out in front of Kemba Walker’s free agency. I wrote an in depth piece about the circumstances around each suitor, while also reporting the latest on each team’s pursuit of the point guard.
Thursday evening, I reported that Kemba Walker intended to sign with the Boston Celtics when free agency began. Just minutes ago, Shams and Woj confirmed that. Kemba Walker is signing a 4 year $141 million deal with the Boston Celtics when free agency begins tomorrow. But how did this happen?
First, it starts with Boston. They were never supposed to be an option. Kyrie Irving was *supposed* to re-sign and they would have no need for a point guard. No one could have saw the implosion that the Celtics underwent this season; resulting in disgruntled teammates and Irving ready to bolt. Every single thing went wrong for Boston this past season, and it opened up the perfect opportunity to slot Walker into the roster.
Staying in the Northeast, Boston is close to Kemba’s home state of New York, where sports media personalities have been pushing Walker to go. The Knicks were never an option for Walker, as I reported this week. Between distractions and the Knicks front office, the Big Apple wasn’t appealing to the 29-year-old point guard. Boston is close enough to the city where it’s manageable, should he want to visit. Additionally, he famously went to college at the University of Connecticut which is an hour an a half drive from Boston. Walker grew up in the Northeast region. Boston was the perfect place to return “home” to.
The Celtics are also far more competitive than the Hornets have ever been, and should still be able to push for home court in the Eastern Conference next season. Throughout eight seasons, the Hornets have been unable to surround Walker with anybody besides Al Jefferson (cool?). The Hornets forced their star out by being unwilling to pay him, which would have put the team — that isn’t competing — into the luxury tax. The rumored contract the Hornets offered was 5 years $160 million, which I cannot confirm. I did report earlier in the week that the Hornets were going to severely lowball him, and their original offer was expected to be below $140 million.
Kemba Walker also had a conversation with Celtics’ rising star Jayson Tatum about joining the team, per source. I don’t know details (for now), but I speculate it was this past week in Paris where the two were together for fashion week x Jordan Brand collaboration.
And that’s it. That’s all it took for Kemba Walker to become a member of the Boston Celtics: dumb luck, a city close to home, a competitive team, and a conversation. The perfect storm.