Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is expected to be one of the most coveted superstars in the 2019 NBA free agency. With their inability to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs having annoyed the team since 2002, rumors have circulated that Walker will be leaving the Hornets as an unrestricted free agent, hoping to chase his first NBA championship title somewhere else.
Kemba Walker has already addressed the rumors regarding his potential departure from Charlotte, saying that he intends to re-sign with the Hornets next summer. According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, the Hornets have a big advantage over other NBA teams who plan to sign Walker, as they are the only ones who can give him a five-year max contract. Bonnell revealed that Walker could get a better deal from the Hornets if he is named to the All-NBA team this season.
“There are advantages built into the NBA system that work in favor of the team attempting to retain talent. This summer, the Hornets will have the option to offer Walker more salary, both in year-to-year raises and a fifth guaranteed season, than any other team. The most the Hornets could offer Walker is about $190 million over five seasons; that maximum could rise to $221 million over five seasons if Walker is named to the All-NBA team at the end of this season.”
With his current performance, it is highly likely that Kemba Walker will be included in an All-NBA team after the 2018-19 NBA season. In 67 games, the 28-year-old point guard is averaging 25.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.3 steals on 43.2 percent shooting from the field. Walker is also averaging 35.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Since assuming a front office role, Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak revealed that they still see Walker as the centerpiece of the title-contending team that they are planning to build.
Giving Kemba Walker a max contract will limit the Hornets’ ability to improve their current roster, and will bury them deep in luxury tax hell. However, it is something that they should do if they are serious about keeping Walker in Charlotte. If the Hornets offer Walker less than the max, there is a huge possibility that he will consider entertaining offers from other NBA teams in the 2019 NBA free agency.
As Bonnell noted, the Dallas Mavericks are currently emerging as the “biggest threat” to the Hornets when it comes to re-signing Kemba Walker next summer. The Mavericks may not be able to reach the Western Conference Playoffs this year, but they have a better chance of making a huge impact than the Hornets in the 2019-20 NBA season — should they pair Walker with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.