The Athletic: Kemba Walker’s ‘first priority’ is Charlotte

One rumored free agent target for the Indiana Pacers in Kemba Walker seems intent on staying with the team that drafted him if they can reach an agreement. Kemba Walker talked about his upcoming free agency with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and his first choice would appear to be remaining with the Charlotte Hornets.

“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker told Weiss. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. … People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”

The Hornets have a major advantage if they choose to use it with the supermax contract that Walker, who averaged over 25 points per game this season, qualified for by making the All-NBA third team. The Hornets were already the only team that could offer Walker a 5-year deal but now the value of the deal could be up to $221.3 million. Every other team can only offer a maximum of four years and $140.6 million, which the Pacers could create the necessary cap space for if they so desired.

While it’s no guarantee that the Hornets will want to offer the full supermax, staying in the same place would seem to be Walker’s preference though he’s not saying it’s a done deal at this point.

“But I don’t know, we’ll see if we’re gonna work something out and figure it out,” Walker told Weiss. “Hopefully, things work out, but it’s all about that god knows where I’m gonna go. He’s the only one who knows where I’m going right now, honestly. So I’m just going to let this thing play out.”

Kevin Pritchard talked about the Pacers wanting to “thing big” this summer in the season-ending press conference and with a pair of free agents at the point guard position that they may be likely to move on from, Walker seemed like he could be a prime target for the team in free agency.

Other point guards on the market this summer include restricted free agents D’Angelo Russell and Malcolm Brogdon and unrestricted FAs Goran Dragic (player option) and Ricky Rubio. Mike Conley could be another one to consider as he has long been on the trade market with the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Pacers were rumored to have made an offer at the trade deadline. It seems even more unlikely that Jrue Holiday will be available in trades after the Pelicans won the draft lottery.

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