The Lakers and Knicks will be first on the phone to Rich Cho and Michael Jordan in the coming weeks if Kemba Walker is available in a trade, which has been whispered about in NBA circles recently.
Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post outlined the Hornets’ looming financial troubles this week and highlighted that the best course of action for Charlotte right now would be to trade Kemba for young players and draft picks instead of being stuck in neutral (the worst place to be in the NBA).
The Lakers are close to being in panic mode right now as the Lonzo Ball pick is blowing up in their face and the franchise has done absolutely nothing in terms of showing that it is serious about being able to place elite talent around LeBron James this summer. Right now, it’s a better bet that LeBron would re-sign in Cleveland or jump to the Houston Rockets instead of signing with the Lakers – which has been rumored for months.
Los Angeles desperately needs a proven, veteran All-Star already on its roster when it goes to give LeBron a pitch in a few months. Kemba would be the best bet for that as he is in his prime at 27-years-old and owns a game much like Kyrie Irving, who helped LeBron to a title two years ago.
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Also attractive for the Lakers is that Kemba’s contract is not massive. He has a year remaining on his current deal, worth $12 million per.
Of course, Jordan would want something in return from his old rival, Magic Johnson. If the Lakers truly are fed up with the Ball family already, then they could package him with Brandon Ingram and get a good-to-great return. Ball and Ingram for Kemba, works money-wise as well.
Bontemps mentioned the Knicks as a top landing spot for Kemba in his piece, and it makes a world of sense.
Kemba is a Bronx, New York native and has had plenty of success at Madison Square Garden dating back to his college days at UConn. The Knicks would surely have to relinquish Frank Ntilikina in the deal, as well as their own first round pick in 2018, but it is a bullet they would likely bite given that the tag team of Kemba and Kristaps would instantly be one of the more dynamic duos in the NBA.
New York is also looking to unload center Kyle O’Quinn, so a package for Kemba would have to look something like this:
Frank Ntilikina (4 years, $3.5 million)
Kyle O’Quinn (2 years, $4.0 million
Lance Thomas (3 years, $6.6 million)
Knicks 2018 draft pick (likely in the 15-22 range)
New York gets:
Kemba Walker (2 years, $12 million)
Bontemps threw Joakim Noah into his trade proposal, but given that the Hornets are in cost-cutting mode they would want no part of Noah’s $17.7 million whopper of a contract that doesn’t end until the summer of 2020.