This past season, Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker was featured in his second-straight All-Star Game.
Averaging 22.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists in 34.2 minutes per contest, Walker re-established himself as one of the best guards in the NBA.
However, with just one year left on his current contract, Walker recently emerged as a viable trade candidate, especially after Charlotte traded away Dwight Howard in exchange for Timofey Mozgov’s expiring contract a few days ago.
The Howard move suggested that the Hornets might be moving towards a fire sale.
However, that won’t be the case at all, at least according to general manager Mitch Kupchak, who went out of his way to address the topic on Friday.
Kupchak told reporters that Walker is "revered" in the Charlotte community, and that he and team owner Michael Jordan look at him as "the focal point of this franchise going forward,” per the Associated Press.
"I think everybody is aware of the situation, if you follow basketball a little bit, it is unique that he is on an extension that may make it a challenge going forward to figure out before he becomes a free agent," Kupchak said.
Based on the fact that he will make just $12 million in the final year of his current deal next season, the Hornets will most likely have to wait until the summer of 2019 until they offer him a maximum contract. Although they’ll be able to offer him more money than any other team (and an additional year), the Hornets run the risk of losing him if he decides that a change of scenery is best for him.
"I don't think it is anybody's goal to lose him in free agency," Kupchak said. "But going forward, in the community, in the franchise, this is a player that we hope is with us -- not only for the next couple of years, but ends his career here.”
Judging by Kupchak’s comments, he will make Walker any offer that he wants.
Per NBA rules, Walker is eligible to make $188 million on a five-year deal in Charlotte if he signs next summer versus a maximum four-year deal for $139 million for any other team. Therefore, the financial inventive is obvious.
While anything can happen in today’s NBA, it seems as though the Hornets will hold onto Walker and build around him. If Charlotte expects to contend in the Eastern Conference, they'll need to add All-Star caliber talent around him sooner rather than later.News Now - Sport News