The Charlotte Hornets have had a frustrating season and their hopes of securing a playoff spot look slim at this moment in time.
For that reason, they are looking to shake things up and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the biggest change they could make may involve star player Kemba Walker.
The franchise is believed to be open to the possibility of trading its point guard, which would be a surprising choice.
Walker was asked about the trade rumours and admitted he would be “devastated” if he was offloaded by the team.
“I would definitely be devastated if I was to get traded,” Walker said, per NBC Sports. “I do want to be here.”
But for the first time, the Hornets have addressed the rumours surrounding the 27-year-old with owner Michael Jordan speaking out on the potential of him leaving.
“We bred him, we chose him, we groomed him to be a good player for us,” Jordan said, per Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “I’m not looking to trade Kemba, but I would listen to opportunities….
“It’s not like we are shopping him. We would not just give him up. I love Kemba Walker. I would not trade him for anything but an All-Star player.”
MJ didn’t fully close the door on a trade and these aren’t hugely reassuring words for Walker.
But moving the former University of Connecticut product would mean a huge shift in the direction of the organisation and it would, therefore, take a quality offer in return for Charlotte to part ways with him.
It’s unlikely that they would receive this in the coming weeks prior to the February 8 trade deadline, but the All-Star’s future in North Carolina beyond this season could be in serious doubt.
He has spent his entire seven-year NBA career with the Hornets after being drafted in 2011 with the number nine overall pick.
The New York native has been the team’s best and most consistent performer during his spell.
Kemba is putting up solid numbers again this campaign with averages of 21.8 points, 5.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Teammate Nicola Batum said he means “everything” for the Hornets and can’t imagine how they could possibly trade him.
Jordan revealed that he reached out to his star after reports surfaced about him potentially being traded and explained to him that they were not actively looking to move him.
“Obviously, the season has been a disappointment so far, and there have been teams asking about players. Also, we’ve been asking about players,” Jordan said. “We ask teams who they like on our roster and they always say Kemba.”
“I certainly haven’t given up on our best player. He’s done a hell of a job of turning himself into an All-Star.”
“I’m disappointed in our record and I’m frustrated at times. But I’m telling you I like everything about Kemba’s work. I’m not just going to throw him away.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and what effect it could have on Walker for the remainder of the campaign.