After a disappointing 2017-18 NBA season, rumors and speculations started to swirl around Kemba Walker and his future with the Charlotte Hornets. When the Hornets hired Mitch Kupchak as their new general manager, most people expected the team to undergo a full-scale rebuild and start by trading Walker, who is considered the face of the franchise. However, Kupchak and Hornets owner Michael Jordan made it clear that they have no intention of moving the All-Star point guard before the February NBA trade deadline and revealed that they plan to give him a long-term contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July.
As of now, Kemba Walker continues to prove that the Hornets made the right decision to keep him on their team. Walker is currently playing his best season since being drafted as the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. In 20 games, the 28-year-old is averaging 27.9 points, 6.5 assists, and 1.2 steals on 44.9 percent shooting from the field and 38.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
In a recent interview with Zach Lowe of ESPN, Kemba Walker admitted that even him was surprised with his performance in the 2018-19 NBA season.
“I never saw myself playing at this level, and shooting the ball like this,” Walker said. “I guess you could say I’m surprised.”
"I never saw myself playing at this level." The unlikely rise of Kemba Walker, and Charlotte's murky path forward: https://t.co/wMby4Qwpym
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 28, 2018
His performance in the 2018-19 NBA season will be vital for Kemba Walker as it could determine his value when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he will be named as an NBA All-Star, Walker will be eligible for a designated player deal from the Hornets which is approximately $200 million over five seasons. If he won’t be lucky, Walker’s max contract from the Hornets is a five-year, $189 million deal.
Once he hits the free agency market, several NBA teams are expected to express a strong interest in adding him to their team. During the 2018 NBA offseason, Kemba Walker was frequently linked with his hometown team, New York Knicks. However, as of now, Walker doesn’t see himself playing somewhere else.
“These guys believed in me,” Walker said. “I couldn’t care less about big markets. That’s not who I am. I want to make this place big. I want to be in the playoffs every year. I want to make Charlotte pop.”
Kemba Walker has said on numerous occasions that he wants to be the first player to bring an NBA championship title in Charlotte. However, with the emergence of “Super Teams,” the Hornets need to add at least two more NBA superstars to play alongside Walker to have a real chance of representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.