There it is, our first major Woj Bomb of this trade season.
UConn’s finest, Kemba Walker, is reportedly available in trade talks. The Hornets are looking to be proactive and get some serious value for the All-Star point guard before his deal expires in 2019. On a favorable contract (12 million per year) Walker should have some suitors. Who could these trade partners be and furthermore, what is Walker’s value?
We can rule out the teams that have point guards they’re comfortable with:
Boston Golden State New Orleans
Miami Houston OKC
Milwaukee LAL Portland
We can also rule out team that may have interest but, lack the assets:
Next, dismiss the teams that are tanking or developing young point guards:
So, what are we left with?
Cleveland New York
*Cleveland could have been ruled out but, can you ever truly rule them out?
Can we narrow this list down even more? Phoenix could benefit from landing Kemba, sure. But, Walker would lift this team into the late lottery; a place they do not want to be. The Suns are better off tanking in an attempt to draft someone like Alabama’s Collin Sexton. New management in New York appear content to take a longer rebuild. The asset they would have to surrender to obtain Walker would most likely be Frank Ntilikina. Frankie Smokes is still a teenager and has established himself as a future part of their core going forward. He is already amongst the league’s best defenders and although his percentages do not reflect it, his shot should be just fine. Plus, New York can wait until free agency in 2019 to lure Kemba back to his home town.
Cleveland New York
And the winner is…
Indiana. Or Detroit. Woj reported that Charlotte will look to pair one of their larger contracts with Kemba. The team that can stomach adding MKG, Batum, Marvin Williams Dwight or Cody Zeller will win this sweepstakes. Cleveland is not in the position to be taking on contracts and do not have the expirings to match. Same goes for Denver and Detroit. The Pacers have a team option on Al Jefferson that they can ship to Charlotte. The Hornets will still need some semblance of a point guard to run things for the next year. Darren Collinson has a tolerable deal (10 mil per year, expires in 2019) that should do the trick. Toss is TJ Leaf and this year’s first and we may have a deal. Indiana has to take on Marvin Williams contract but gets a serious guard upgrade on a two year deal. Charlotte gets a mid-to-late first, a solid prospect in TJ Leaf and some near or soon-to-be expirings.
One Question: Can Walker and Oladipo, both ball dominant guards, coexist? I am not so sure. Check their usage rates, which are both north of 25%.
On to Detroit.
True, Detroit is not in a position to take back major salary. They have no valuable expirings to give back to Charlotte, either. Fortunately for Detroit, most of the league does not have the expiring contracts or cap space available to complete this trade. Detroit can offer Boban, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard. The Pistons receive an upgrade over the injured Reggie Jackson. If Charlotte wants a first rounder, Detroit can provide theirs while then swapping Kennard for Henry Ellenson. This trade seems more reasonable given the needs of both teams. A change of scenery may be what Johnson needs and Kennard will have a long career in this league due to his shooting ability. Detroit can push for the playoffs and revitalize their storied basketball city. Plus, this UConn fan wants to see Dre and Kemba together!
Of course, let me know your thoughts!