There will be a long list of names available in free agency this summer. Among them will be Kemba Walker, a small but potent NBA All-Star with a hunger and passion for something more.
Word is, he will stay in Charlotte if they offer him the full five-year, $221 million. But, interestingly enough, the word on the street also says the Hornets are unlikely to make that offer anyway.
According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Kemba and the Hornets remain each other's priority, but coming to terms on a deal might not be as easy as expected.
"The Hornets and Kemba Walker both have each other as top priorities entering July 1, league sources said. Walker confirmed to Jared Weiss of The Athletic that the Hornets remain his “first priority” during his tour of Tokyo as an NBA ambassador there during the NBA Finals. Walker made the All-NBA third team this year after another spectacular season, allowing him to sign a five-year, $221 million super maximum contract. There is doubt around the NBA that the Hornets will reach that high amount, but owner Michael Jordan’s loyalty has always been with Walker."
So far, Walker has been the only star to pass through the Hornets in some time. People are urging him to leave for that very reason. But, for Kemba, Charlotte has become a home for him and the Hornets are still in a decent spot.
As for the team perspective, letting go of Walker would give them the green light for a full-on rebuild.
It will be interesting to see how the two sides negotiate an extension this summer. Loyalty might pay off for both parties, but sometimes change is inevitable.