Charlotte Hornets superstar Kemba Walker continues to build on his impressive performance in the 2018-19 NBA season. In 69 games played, the 28-year-old point guard is averaging 25.0 points, 5.7 assists, and 1.3 steals on 42.8 percent shooting from the field and 35.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. However, despite posting incredible numbers almost every night, Walker is still unable to carry the Hornets to the top of the Eastern Conference.
As of now, the Hornets are three wins behind the Eastern Conference No. 8 seed Miami Heat. The outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season will be vital for the Hornets, as it could affect Walker’s decision when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Walker is “more likely” to leave the Hornets if they fail to reach the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the third consecutive year.
“The fate of teams like the Grizzlies and Hornets could be riding on the remainder of the season. If Charlotte misses the postseason, perhaps Kemba Walker is more likely to leave—making him an option for the Lakers.”
Once Kemba Walker decides to part ways with the Hornets, one of the NBA teams that are expected to express strong interest in signing him is the Los Angeles Lakers. After suffering another disappointing season, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are expected to be more aggressive in finding a second superstar to pair with LeBron James in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Targeting Kemba Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency makes a lot of sense for the Lakers, especially if they want to maximize the effectiveness of LeBron James on the court. In the eight straight years that he ruled the Eastern Conference, James found success when sharing the court with All-Star-caliber guards like Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and Dwyane Wade in Miami.
The acquisition of Walker will also likely have a huge effect on the development of Lonzo Ball, but there is a strong chance that the former No. 2 overall pick will no longer be part of the Lakers’ roster in the 2019-20 NBA season. Aside from targeting the likes of Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency, the Lakers are also planning to chase for a superstar who will be available on the trade market next summer. If the Lakers decide to resume their trade negotiation with the Pelicans, Ball is expected to be included in the trade package that will be sent to New Orleans to acquire All-Star center Anthony Davis.