With the Charlotte Hornets failing to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Kemba Walker is expected to re-evaluate his NBA future in the upcoming offseason. The 27-year-old point guard could demand a trade from the Hornets if there won’t be a drastic improvement on their roster. According to Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer, one of the potential trade destinations for Walker is the Phoenix Suns.
After years of tanking, the Suns may finally think it’s for them to surround Devin Booker with quality players. Booker is eligible to sign a massive contract extension this summer, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league. After inking a new deal, Suns veteran forward Jared Dudley expects Booker to be more aggressive in pushing for improvement throughout the team, per Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
In an interview with Azcentral Sports, Booker said that the Suns’ No. 1 priority in the upcoming offseason is to acquire better talents that can help them contend for the title next season. If Kemba Walker will become available on the trading block, O’Connor suggested the Suns should make a move. In the proposed trade deal, Phoenix could send a trade package centered on Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender to the Hornets for Walker.
“One that makes some sense on paper could be the 2018 firsts from Milwaukee and Miami (currently no. 15 and no. 16) plus the future Heat pick and a young player (Marquese Chriss or Dragan Bender) for Walker. That may not be enough for the Hornets, but there’s a lot of talent to be mined in the mid-first round, and it wouldn’t be hard to add a longer-term salary (Zeller, Kidd-Gilchrist, or Williams) for Dudley or Chandler, both of whom expire in 2019.”
Losing their franchise’s all-time scoring leader is the last thing the Hornets would want to happen. But if he won’t sign a contract extension this summer, it will be best for the Hornets to trade Kemba Walker than lose him for nothing in 2019 free agency. The acquisition of Chriss or Bender, together with the 2018 first-round picks from the Heat and the Bucks, and a future draft pick will help them speed up the rebuilding process and become a relevant team in the league once again.
Meanwhile, O’Connor believes Walker would form a “high-powered backcourt” with Devin Booker in Phoenix which could be comparable or even better than the explosive backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers. However, trading for Walker should only be the start of the Suns’ plan to build a title-contending team.
O’Connor thinks the Suns should also improve their frontcourt by targeting talented big men in 2018 free agency. The Suns could pursue DeAndre Jordan, Clint Capela, or Aaron Gordon, who could not only boost their defense but also give them another contributor on the offensive end of the floor. With the emergence of multiple “Super Teams,” the Suns will need a roster overhaul to be considered as a legitimate title contender next season.