NBA Rumors: Celtics GM Danny Ainge 'Tried Like Hell' To Trade Kemba Walker Earlier This Year

Kemba Walker runs a play for the Celtics
Gettyimages | Andy Lyons
Basketball

Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker has been the subject of various trade speculations since the 2020 offseason. Walker may have posted good numbers last season, but he failed to leave a good impression in his first postseason as a Celtic. Things got more complicated when the veteran point guard suffered a left knee injury that forced him to miss the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. After he went down with an injury, rumors circulated that the Celtics tried to send him to another team.

Danny Ainge Tried To Trade Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker pointing at his teammate
Gettyimages | Streeter Lecka

In a recent appearance on "The Colin Cowherd Podcast," NBA Analyst Ric Bucher discussed the rumors surrounding Walker and his future in Boston. Bucher revealed that Celtics president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ainge "tried like hell" to get rid of Walker earlier this year.

“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba at the beginning of the year, knowing that his knee wasn’t right,” Bucher said, as quoted by MassLive. “He was trying to get rid of damaged goods. That’s the issue that Kemba is dealing with, and at his size, it’s a little bit like Isaiah Thomas.”

Kemba Walker Compared To Isaiah Thomas

Kemba Walker reacting to the ref's call
Gettyimages | Maddie Meyer

When they signed him in the 2019 free agency period, the Celtics hoped that adding Walker to the core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart will solidify their chances of dominating the Eastern Conference and winning a title. However, the way the Celtics viewed Walker changed after he was sidelined by an injury. 

With his health issues and deteriorating performance, Bucher couldn't help himself but compare him to Isaiah Thomas. Aside from their similarity in height, Thomas had also been in the same situation as Walker. After being briefly considered as the face of the franchise, Ainge dumped Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Kyrie Irving.

Kemba Walker Considered As A Weakness For Celtics

Kemba Walker surveying the court
Gettyimages | Maddie Meyer

Though he's yet to regain his All-Star form, Walker is already starting to show some improvements with his performance on both ends of the floor. In the 15 games he played this season, he's averaged 17 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 37.1 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. However, even if he manages to return to his old self, Bucher thinks that Walker will still be a liability for the Celtics in the playoffs.

“In the regular season, you can kind of get away with it and disguise it,” Bucher said. “But when you play the best teams, they’re going to exploit that he’s undersized and can’t move the same way that he once could.”

Celtics Need To Make Major Roster Upgrade

Kemba Walker reacting to a wrong call
Gettyimages | Vaughn Ridley

So far, it remains unknown if Ainge and the Celtics are still actively trying to get rid of Walker or not. However, most people might agree that the Celtics should strongly consider making a big acquisition before the 2021 trade deadline. Despite the impressive performances of Tatum and Brown this year, the Celtics are currently not viewed on the same level as other Eastern Conference powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Even Ainge admitted that the Celtics have to get better in order to have a realistic chance of achieving their main goal in the 2020-21 season.