One of the surprise moves at the NBA trade deadline on Thursday could involve Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker, who is set to hit free agency this coming summer. The Hornets run the real risk of watching Walker walk out the door for nothing in a few months. Charlotte is sitting with a .500 record in the Eastern Conference right now at 26-26 and despite a hot start to their season there is no reason to think the Hornets could knock off Milwaukee, Toronto or Boston in the first round.
Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak is in a tough spot right now as the trade market for Walker right now is not a great one. Most every contending team is happy with their point guard situation at the moment and there are not many teams with a plethora of assets that would dump young players at picks at Kupchak’s doorstep. Considering that Walker will likely be nothing more than a rental for whichever team trades for him will also factor in. If the Knicks whiff in their pursuit of Kyrie Irving in July, Walker is their backup plan in the backcourt. Walker is from NYC and has expressed a desire to make Madison Square Garden his permanent home.
One team that does make some sense when it comes to a potential Walker trade is the Philadelphia 76ers, who could use a scorer on the perimeter. The Sixers seem wary of trading some of their elite assets, like guard Markelle Fultz, but that is because they want to get full return on a high-upside player like Fultz. Say the Sixers trade Fultz for Walker. They run the risk of not only Walker leaving this summer, but Jimmy Butler as well.
The good money is on the 76ers trading Fultz this coming summer when the longterm landscape of the NBA will be a bit more clear in mid-July.