With their failure to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Charlotte Hornets superstar Kemba Walker is expected to be available on the trade market this summer. However, before the February trade deadline, Hornets owner Michael Jordan made it clear that the only way teams can convince them to trade Walker is if they will send another All-Star in return. Does trading Kawhi Leonard for Walker make sense for the San Antonio Spurs?
The worsening drama in San Antonio could lead to an inevitable divorce between Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs. If both parties decided to part ways in the upcoming offseason, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer believes the Hornets will be one of the NBA teams who plan to take advantage of the situation. However, Bonnell said the Hornets will need to give up Kemba Walker to bring Leonard to Charlotte.
“Of course, they should. And here’s something coincidental, but interesting, regarding that: Clifford mentioned around the time Walker was setting the franchise scoring record that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admires Walker’s game. Any Hornets offer for Leonard would seemingly have to include Walker, who will be in the Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas, coached by Popovich.”
Kemba Walker and Kawhi Leonard are two All-Stars who are no longer happy with their current teams. Both are also set to become unrestricted free agents in 2019, so the best time for the Spurs and the Hornets to trade them is in the upcoming offseason.
Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich will surely welcome the idea of sending Leonard to Charlotte in exchange for Walker, especially if he won’t be able to fix the issue like he did to LaMarcus Aldridge last summer. The continuous absence of Leonard, despite being medically cleared by the team’s medical staff, created frustration in the entire organization. According to ESPN, Popovich said that the only people who can answer whether Leonard can return in the playoffs or not are his own medical team, and recent reports from Yahoo Sports revealed that the All-Star forward is expected to miss the remainder of the postseason.
As Bonnell noted, Popovich has huge admiration for Walker’s game, and the two will soon be working together in the Team USA minicamp. The 27-year-old point guard will undeniably be a great addition to Pop’s squad with Tony Parker already on the verge of retirement. Pairing Kemba Walker with Aldridge will help the Spurs become more competitive in the deep Western Conference.
Meanwhile, the potential acquisition of Kawhi Leonard will be a good start for Mitch Kupchak as the Hornets’ new general manager. However, for the Hornets to return to contention, Kupchak will need to continuously improve their roster to strengthen their chance of beating powerhouse teams in the league. Also, before the Spurs and the Hornets proceed with a deal, they should first get an assurance from Walker and Leonard that they are willing to sign extensions in the summer of 2019.