From being the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Charlotte Hornets superstar Kemba Walker has turned himself into one of the best point guards in the league. After averaging 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals on 43.4 percent shooting from the field, and 35.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the 2018-19 NBA season, Walker was named to the All-NBA Third Team, which makes him eligible to sign a supermax extension with the Hornets in the 2019 NBA free agency.
However, after they failed to make the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the third straight year, rumors and speculation started to circulate that Kemba Walker would be parting ways with the Hornets when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. Walker has said in numerous occasions his desire to create something special in Charlotte, but he also said that he wants to be on a team that can at least compete in the postseason.
In a recent interview with Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Walker decided to address the rumors surrounding him and his impending free agency.
Walker admitted that he has heard and read several reports saying that he will be leaving the Hornets to chase for his first NBA title somewhere else. At this point in his NBA career, Walker would undeniably be better off playing for a legitimate playoff contender than staying on a mediocre team like the Hornets. However, despite their recent struggle, Walker said that the Hornets will be his “first priority” when the calendar turns into the month of July.
“That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know,” Walker said, as quoted by Hoops Rumors. “Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) June 2, 2019
It’s definitely a nice thing to hear for the Hornets; the fact that Kemba Walker sees them as his top priority in the 2019 NBA free agency. However, in order to secure his future in Charlotte, the Hornets don’t seem to have a choice but to offer Walker a five-year maximum deal.
“I think at my age (29), whoever is my age in this situation, I think the fifth year is always important to them,” Walker said. “So yeah, it’s important for sure.”
Since the 2019 NBA offseason began, the Hornets revealed their intention to do everything they could to bring Kemba Walker back. However, giving Walker a max contract will bury the Hornets deep into the luxury tax hell, which could limit their ability to surround the All-Star point guard with a better supporting cast. Walker undeniably deserves a huge payday, but it remains a big question mark if offering him a supermax deal is the best move for the Hornets in the offseason.