Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets continue to keep their playoff hopes alive in the 2018-19 NBA season. As of now, the Hornets are on a four-game winning streak, only two wins behind the Eastern Conference No. 8 seed Miami Heat. The outcome of the season will be vital for the Hornets as it could affect their chance of re-signing Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency.
If they fail to reach the postseason for the third consecutive year, Kemba Walker is expected to leave the Hornets and chase his first NBA championship somewhere else. In the past few months, Walker has been frequently linked to his hometown team, the New York Knicks, who have created two max slots after trading the lucrative contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline. Aside from the Knicks, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer revealed that one big-market team is also keeping an eye on Walker: the Los Angeles Lakers.
“LeBron James and the Lakers could also chase Walker, as their options this summer will likely be more limited than they expected. Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis will define the offseason, but Walker’s decision will play a role in determining which teams can vault into contention. Walker could be the piece that makes Durant and the Knicks work or takes LeBron and the Lakers to the next level. Those are the typical big-market destinations, but multiple teams inquired about Walker’s availability prior to the deadline.”
After missing the Western Conference Playoffs for six straight years, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka are expected to be more aggressive in upgrading their roster in the 2019 NBA offseason. The Lakers purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2019 where they could sign another superstar who could play alongside LeBron James in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Kemba Walker may not be on the level of the Lakers’ top free-agent targets like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard, but he would still be an incredible addition to the purple and gold. This season, Walker is averaging 25.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.3 steals on 42.7 percent shooting from the field, and 35.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. At 28, Walker is still in his prime and is expected to remain as one of the elite point guards in the league for the next couple of years.
Pairing Kemba Walker with LeBron James will undeniably make the Lakers a more competitive team next season. If they succeed in acquiring Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers could turn from a disappointing team to a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference.