Knicks officialize and sign Kemba Walker on waivers
Former All-Star Kemba Walker has signed with the Knicks, New York announced today, formalizing a move that was reported last week. Walker parted ways with the Oklahoma City Thunder on August 6, when he was sidelined by them after being traded there during the offseason.
New York, he is at home. pic.twitter.com/LEzA5Fosoj
– NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) August 11, 2021
– NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) August 11, 2021
News of Walker’s return to his hometown squad was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and confirmed by several others. Walker, 31, owes nearly $ 74 million for the next two seasons, including a $ 37.6 million option he held for 2022-23. He never played for the Thunder, who acquired him in a trade with Boston in June as part of the deal that sent Al Horford back to the Celtics.
Walker has been guaranteed more than $ 73 million over the next two seasons. But after helping the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA bubble last season, the four-time All-Star, he was limited by knee injuries to 43 games in 2021; he missed the last two games of the first-round playoff loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Walker’s move to the Knicks puts him in one of the very active teams in free agency. Walker’s former teammate in Boston last season, free agent Evan Fournier, reportedly agreed to a four-year contract with New York. Aside from that move, the Knicks have also reportedly re-signed their own free agents: goaltender Derrick Rose (a three-year contract), center Nerlens Noel (a three-year contract), goalkeeper Alec Burks (a three-year contract) three years) and forward Taj Gibson (one year contract).
Going to the Knicks won’t just be a homecoming for Walker.
It will also be an opportunity to play more matches in an arena that provided some of his best moments.
He won a national championship as a junior at UConn in 2011, ending the season with an 11-game winning streak that began when the Huskies won five games in five days en route to the Big East Tournament Championship at Madison Square. Garden – the Knicks’ home. Walker averaged 26 points playing almost every minute of those five games to win the league, then won the NCAA Final Four Outstanding Player Award as UConn beat Butler for the national title.
In 15 games at the Garden as a pro, Walker is averaging 21.3 points.
Walker has been a four-time All-Star, earning three of those spots during his days with the Charlotte Hornets from 2011 to 2019. The Hornets’ all-time top scorer, Walker left Charlotte in free agency in the summer of 2019 for signing with Boston in a move that should help lift the Celtics into the top flight in the East.
For now, that is the case, as Walker has teamed up with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to propel Boston to 48-24 and to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics have been sent off in six games by the Miami Heat and had hopes of another solid season in 2020-21, but it never came to fruition. Boston chose to leave Walker and brought back Horford to give the Celtics the frontline presence they have been missing since leaving two seasons ago.
As for the Thunder, their rebuilding process will continue as they develop around rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who has signed maximum overtime in the offseason). OKC has a cache of future draft picks and will work the five players he picked in the 2021 NBA Draft into the mix in 2021-22.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.