Compared to other prospective free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard, Charlotte Hornets star Kemba Walker isn’t as heavily featured in the NBA rumor mill. However, a new report suggests that there is one team that could be ahead of the others as the most likely landing spot for the All-Star point guard in the summer of 2019 — the Dallas Mavericks.
Citing two sources “with knowledge of the Mavericks’ thinking,” Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer wrote that Walker could be Dallas’ top priority in the 2019 offseason. According to Bonnell, the Mavericks may be far removed from playoff contention at the moment, but have enough salary cap room to lure a top free agent to the team with a maximum contract, as well as a young roster that gives them a promising outlook in the years to come.
In the eight seasons since the Charlotte Hornets made Kemba Walker the No. 9 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the 28-year-old point guard has played in three All-Star Games but has only been to the playoffs twice, with the Hornets getting eliminated in the first round on both occasions. According to Basketball-Reference, Walker has played in all 66 games this season, averaging a career-best 24.9 points on 42.8 percent field goal shooting, along with 4.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
Currently, the Hornets sit at 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-36 record, and while the team has a fighting chance of securing a playoff spot, The Charlotte Observer noted that Walker has recently expressed a desire to have a more “meaningful” career going forward in terms of postseason success.
While the Dallas Mavericks (27-39) are ranked 14th place in the Western Conference, rookie wingman Luka Doncic has thrilled fans with his performance as the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and, as The Charlotte Observer predicted, is looking like the frontrunner for this season’s Rookie of the Year award. The Mavericks also acquired former New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis ahead of the February trade deadline, and while he’s slated to miss the entire 2018-19 season with a torn ACL, the hope is that he’ll be healthy in time for the start of the 2019-20 season, per CBS Sports.
Still, the trade for Porzingis left Dallas with a weakness at the point guard position, as the Mavericks had to give up several players, including second-year man Dennis Smith Jr., in order to acquire the Latvian big man. The Charlotte Observer wrote that signing Kemba Walker could address the Mavericks’ biggest need at the present, while also giving him his first-ever opportunity to team up with two other superstar-level players in Doncic and Porzingis.