Late yesterday, the story broke that seemingly for the first time in his career there, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker is being made available in trade.
Walker is not up for sale because of anything he did. Rather, it appears that Kemba is being listed as 'available' purely because he is one of the few pieces other teams want, and the Hornets, mindful that they need to do something, intend to leverage that into moving at least one other piece alongside him that teams will only want if Kemba goes with them.
It is a potentially ugly situation, one made uglier by another report that has come out today.
News of Kemba's availability was something of a surprise. The Hornets have struggled all year, mired in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a 18-25 record that is neither good enough to make the playoffs nor bad enough to be near the top of the draft. They are mired in mediocrity without much sign of going forwards with it.
However, the Hornets struggle like this seemingly every year, and there was no hint that this latest edition would be the one that threatened Walker's future with the team, especially with this being the same season in which the team took on Dwight Howard, a move for the immediate term if ever there was one. It was a surprise, then, to learn that the team was at least taking calls on potentially blowing up the few good things they have going for them.
Jordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports is claiming that the news caught Kemba himself unawares, too. Walker, Schultz claims, learned only of his status on the trade market via media reports, and not it seems from the team directly.
This is not entirely unprecedented. Shane Battier is one such example of a player finding out their status on Twitter, and not just a rumour, either - Battier claims he found out he was being traded first from social media, before he had heard from his own team on the matter,
There also have been instances of team management learning only about business that affects them because of the media machine. More than a decade ago now, then-Milwaukee Bucks general manager Larry Harris admitted that he only knew former All-Star centre Jamaal Magloire was available in trade when he read a rumour to that extent on HoopsHype.com's NBA news aggregator - prior to that, he didn't know.
It is not, however, a good look. The fact that the Hornets may have made a commitment to moving Kemba does not mean that he is dead to them. Regardless of his status as a key market asset, Walker is still also a key Hornets play, and courtesy should dictate he knows where he is at.
As Schultz goes on to say, Walker has done everything right at every turn, playing hard on the court even in wasted seasons for his team and never speaking out about their struggles to flank him with anyone or their constant presence in the lottery.
He has been fair, even in taking the below-market extension, and thus he should get fair back. If it is going to end, hopefully it will at least end courteously.
And if it is not going to end, if Walker is going to remain with the team, then it's probably best to call him and smooth this one over. "Sorry Kemba, they called us, they leaked it. We were going to let you know as soon as we could." The media cycle moves very fast, but the front office cycle will need to move fast to keep up.News Now - Sport News