When they missed the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the second consecutive year, rumors started to circulate that Kemba Walker would be leaving the Charlotte Hornets to chase for his first NBA championship somewhere else. The speculations about Walker’s departure heated up when the Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as their new general manager. However, after hearing about the rumors, Kupchak said that they still see Walker as the centerpiece of the title-contending team they plan to build.
Kemba Walker is entering the final year of the four-year, $48 million contract he signed with the Hornets in the summer of 2015. If the Hornets won’t get an assurance that he intends to stay beyond the 2018-19 NBA season, trading Walker before the February NBA trade deadline will be their best option, rather than losing him in the 2019 NBA free agency without getting anything in return. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, by way of NBC Sports, several NBA teams have already inquired about Walker’s availability via trade, but they all received the same answer from the Hornets.
“Teams inquiring about Kemba Walker this offseason received the same message, league sources said: the Hornets are committed to contending for a playoff berth with Walker as the face of the franchise. For now, Michael Jordan has a strong desire to re-sign Walker as a free agent next summer, and teams around the NBA have recognized as much.”
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) November 8, 2018
Despite not landing a huge roster upgrade, Hornets owner Michael Jordan remains confident that Kemba Walker could lead the team back to the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season. The Hornets are currently sitting in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 6-5 record. Walker has been impressive since the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, and in 11 games, the 28-year-old point guard is averaging 28.1 points, 5.9 assists, and 4.2 rebounds on 47.1 percent shooting from the field, and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
As of now, Hornets fans don’t have anything to be worried about in regards to Kemba Walker’s future in Charlotte. If Walker will be consistent and remain healthy throughout the season, the Hornets may end up being a huge threat in the Eastern Conference. However, if they struggle and miss the NBA Playoffs for the third straight season, it is highly likely that Walker’s name will surface once again in various trade rumors.
Suffering another disappointing season may force the Hornets to undergo a full-scale rebuild, which is expected to start by trading the face of the franchise, Kemba Walker.