For years, Kemba Walker was one of the most valued players for the Charlotte Hornets — every basketball fan is well aware of that. He helped lead his team to victory many times, and his performance on the court constantly kept Charlotte fans on the edge of their seats. As a four-time NBA All-Star, there is no doubt that Walker has a huge fan base, and his list of awards is extremely impressive.
Walker had one of the toughest decisions to make in NBA free agency in 2019, but he left Charlotte and bolted for Boston. Losing a franchise player is never easy, but let’s look at one way that losing Walker was actually good for the Hornets.
Kemba Walker was the face of the Charlotte Hornets
It was back in 2011 that Kemba Walker entered the NBA, and he hasn’t looked back since. He was the ninth overall pick for the Charlotte Hornets that year. Walker was the face of the Charlotte Hornets for many years. He was loved by people throughout the city as one of the valuable players in the NBA. As a two-time recipient of the NBA Sportsmanship Award, he is known to be amazing both on and off the court, and his stats are pretty spectacular.
Walker made quite an impact while playing for the Hornets, and leaving the team was more difficult than he thought it would be. He went so far as to say that some days are harder than others, and at first, he had trouble envisioning himself playing for a team other than the one he had been with for eight years.
Walker’s exit from the Hornets
In July 2019, Walker left Charlotte and headed to Boston to play for the Celtics, having signed a four-year maximum contract with the team. As a free agent, he knew he was receiving a low offer to stay with the Hornets, and found himself facing one of the most difficult decisions. According to Swarm and Sting, the Hornets’ lowball offer didn’t come anywhere near reaching the maximum contract offer
Walker was clearly one of the most coveted players on the team, but the Hornets offered him significantly less than he was worth. After such a lowball offer from the Hornets, Walker ultimately signed a four-year deal with the Celtics worth over $140 million. However, the former Charlotte star was eligible for a supermax contract with the Hornets — a deal that would have paid him over $221 million in five years, according to Business Insider,
One way that losing Kemba Walker wasn’t that bad for the Hornets
While many people might think that it would be detrimental to lose such an excellent player, having Kemba Walker leave the team was actually good for the Hornets. How so?
During “clutch time,” when Walker would often take over and lead the team to a win, the Hornets were too predictable. Without Walker, Charlotte is more balanced and much more efficient in crunch time, according to the Charlotte Observer. As the Observer notes, the Hornets are one of the best teams in those close late-game situations.
Clutch time basically happens when a win could go either way. In the fourth quarter of the game, which many consider being the most intense, it is not always clear who will have the victory. That is where “clutch time” comes in, and the players must think quickly and play at their best to score points.
Losing Walker has led to more players, such as Devonte Graham, Terry Rozier, and P.J. Washington, relying on themselves and their own skills in order to close out a game and has worked well so far for the team. It looks like the Hornets are better off now that Walker has left in at least one way.