Kemba Walker’s path to suit up for his hometown New York Knicks was hoped to transpire as a perfect match. Instead, it’s been anything but that as Walker is out of the rotation, generating serious doubt regarding his long-term future in New York. As trade rumors ramp up, here’s a ranking of the best landing spots determined by potential playing time and how competitive the team would be with Walker.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are floating around the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia hasn’t gathered any separation, while the unresolved situation with Ben Simmons isn’t helping. Those factors alone make a move to acquire Walker’s and his two-year, $17.8 million contract more reasonable.
The 76ers have a solid core group around star center Joel Embiid with Tobias Harris, emerging guard Tyrese Maxey, and Seth Curry. However, adding the former All-Star point guard would further strengthen their backcourt.
Kemba Walker wouldn’t disrupt Maxey’s role as the starter but rather add to the guard mix with another proven scorer. The 31-year-old would need to accept a backup role while he can become the leading scorer off the bench.
Until Walker can prove that he’s regained his elite form, he will have to play a reserve role wherever he lands. The 76ers would present him a chance to win while proving he’s past his injury issues.
2. Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic’s meteoric rise to NBA stardom has anchored him as the franchise centerpiece.
The Mavericks are hoping to build a strong roster of talent around him to elevate the franchise toward much more than playoff contention. Dallas has struggled to find their footing, holding a 14-13 record through the first 27 games, sitting in the Western Conference’s seventh overall spot.
Kemba Walker’s addition would help address a significant scoring need as the Mavericks rank 26th with 104.4 points per contest and 22nd shooting 44.5% from the floor. The four-time All-Star could step in as the third scoring option behind Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
He provides another proven ball-handler that can create their own shot, which Dallas lacks beyond Doncic. Ultimately, the Mavericks would only stand to benefit from adding Walker.
1. Charlotte Hornets
Although the Hornets have moved forward with LaMelo Ball as the cornerstone of their future, a return isn’t a far-fetched idea.
Walker still holds a strong affinity for the city and franchise, where he spent his first eight seasons developing into one of the league’s best backcourt talents.
“If it was a max offer, I definitely would have taken it. I did not want to leave Charlotte… I loved Charlotte,” Walker said during his interview on The Old Man and The 3 podcast in November via Audacy. “I still live there to this day. I love Charlotte, love everything about Charlotte. The organization, everything. Yeah, I did not want to leave. But I just kind of felt like, if I wasn’t getting my max, that I shouldn’t be there, you know?
“I felt like I was worth more, like I’d done so much there that I kind of had to just move on. That was kind of my thought process in that situation.”
His second tenure in Charlotte would look much different, as a veteran presence to help mentor Ball. The 31-year-old can become the team’s lead guard and ball-handler off the bench, especially if he can move past his injuries struggles.
Walker is a bonafide scorer that has plenty to offer and could be a key piece toward helping the Hornets push their way into the playoffs.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.