Charlotte Hornets star point guard Kemba Walker is available on the trade market and the New York Knicks could be a potential landing spot.
ESPN’s Ian Begley reported on Friday that the Hornets “would like to engage” in possible trade scenarios that would send the 27-year-old Bronx native home to New York.
Walker would undoubtedly provide the Knicks with their best point guard in decades should he be traded. The seven-year veteran who is in the prime of his career has averaged 22.6 points and 5.6 assists per game since the start of the 2016-17 season.
With the Hornets struggling to contend in the Eastern Conference, they are willing to trade away one of their biggest stars in order to give the organization a fresh start. But it comes with a catch.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hornets are willing to include Walker in a package deal in order to shed “one of the Hornets’ several less desirable contracts.”
Nicolas Batum (four years, $100 million), Dwight Howard (two years, $47 million) and Marvin Williams (three years, $42 million) are three of their most egregious that Charlotte would likely want to move.
That immediately makes the prospect of acquiring Walker less appealing. It gets even worse when Charlotte’s asking price comes into play.
Along with getting a sizeable contract off the books, the Hornets reportedly want a young talent or a first-round pick in the NBA draft, per Begley.
The Knicks have a first-round pick for at least the next seven years, something that has been a rarity for a franchise that has made just four first-round picks since 2010. Hypothetically speaking, if they don’t want to get rid of a first rounder, that would mean parting with young talent.
The first player that would come to mind is point guard Frank Ntilikina, who was taken eighth overall in the 2017 draft, one of the last decisions made by Phil Jackson before he was exiled from New York.
At 19 years old, the Frenchman has had his fair share of growing pains as he gets accustomed to the NBA game, but one cannot deny that he could very well be a special talent in this league.
He would be one of a number of possible players the Knicks would have to deal in a package that could include the likes of either Kyle O’Quinn(27 years old), Willy Hernangomez (23), Lance Thomas and Ron Baker (24).
Giving up younger talent and the team’s future is an awfully large risk for a player like Walker, who is going to hit free agency after the 2018-19 season. Should the Knicks lose in a bidding war and not retain Walker, then the deal could be a crippling one to the franchise.