2. Kemba Walker, PG – $9.2 million
With freshly-minted rookie Jaden Ivey joining Detroit’s backcourt, the Pistons now have Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Rodney McGruder, Hamidou Diallo, Alec Burks, Cory Joseph, Carsen Edwards and Frank Jackson. Leaving little chance for Kemba Walker to weasel his way into the rotation.
As a result, a potential buyout for the four-time All-Star has been rumored for the last few weeks.
While I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Detroit made a deal to part ways with Walker before the start of the regular season, it’s also worth noting that none of the aforementioned names have nearly as much experience as Walker. So, I think they’ll hold on to him, at least for now.
Regardless, the Pistons are still nowhere near title contenders and probably won’t even make the playoffs next season. Despite having a solid young core of Cunningham, Hayes, Ivey, Saddiq Bey, and Jalen Duran, I think there’s a good chance they’ll be a lottery team yet again. Which means that they would have absolutely no use for Walker.
Walker could get traded but I feel that given his recent knee problems which limited him to just 37 games with the New York Knicks last season. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if no team bites on his $9.2 million contract and he instead makes his way through waivers.
The good news for the Denver Nuggets is that this could present the perfect opportunity to swoop in and snag a quality veteran. Currently, Denver has Jamal Murray and Bones Hyland as the only two point guards expected to get substantial playing time next season. Ish Smith could slot in for the occasional game or two but he’s far from a reliable option at this stage in his career, even as a back up.
Bringing in a player like Kemba Walker, who can still score from the inside and the perimeter, could be a real power move for the Nuggets leading into the postseason. After all, it was only a couple of short seasons ago when Walker made All-NBA averaging over 20 points per game. At the very least, it offers depth behind Bones and Murray in case either were to suffer a late-season injury.