Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker has less than two weeks to go until he officially enters unrestricted free agency.
At his basketball camp in Charlotte today, the Hornets star said he’d be open to taking less than the supermax this summer. He told reporters at the camp, which was held at Ardrey Kell High School in south Charlotte, that his willingness to do so was to help the Hornets build a better team around him going forward.
“Yeah, why not? Yeah I would be. I would take less, yeah,” Walker said when asked if he’d take less than the supermax to help the Hornets build around him.
Kemba’s exact words when he was asked if he’d be willing to take less than the supermax to help the #Hornets build a team around him: “Yeah, why not? Yeah I would be. I would take less, yeah.”
Kemba says he would take less than the supermax to stay in Charlotte. He reiterated that he’d love to stay here.
Speaking at his youth basketball camp, Kemba Walker said he would take less than the supermax from the #Hornets to help build a team around him.
When asked by The Athletic’s Rod Boone if he wanted to remain in Charlotte, Walker said: “I don’t know how many times I can say that. I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how many times I can say it. But if it doesn’t work out I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else. But yes, I would love to be in Charlotte.”
In an interview with Jared Weiss of The Athletic earlier this month, Walker had said re-signing with the Hornets is his “first priority.” On Thursday, he reiterated that point but said that doesn’t make it automatic he will stay in Charlotte. Walker told reporters he plans to meet with other NBA teams before making his decision and that he plans to lean on his agent, Jeff Schwartz, throughout the process.
The main points from Kemba’s media chat:
* Hornets remain his top priority
* This is where he wants to be
* He’d take less than the supermax to help build around him
* He plans on meeting with other teams
* Will lean on agent Jeff Schwartz throughout process
Asked Kemba if he still wants to be in Charlotte. “I don’t know how many times I can say that. I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how many times I can say it. But if it doesn’t work out I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else. But yes, I would love to be in Charlotte.”
Walker qualified for the supermax extension from the Hornets after making the third-team All-NBA this season, which could pay him more than $220 million over five years. He averaged a career-high 25.6 points and 5.9 assists for the Hornets this season while earning his third straight All-Star selection.
Veteran forward Marvin Williams reportedly exercised his option for next season, in which he will earn $15 million. Swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has a $13 million player option for next season, but he has not made his decision yet (and has until June 22 to do so). The Hornets are also already on the books for Nicolas Batum ($25.56 million), Bismack Biyombo ($17 million) and Cody Zeller ($14.47 million) next season — although Biyombo and Williams are both in the final years of their respective deals.
The Hornets don’t have the money to sign a difference-maker in free agency, which will likely leave GM Mitch Kupchak to acquire talent through a trades. Walker had said in the past he wants to continue playing for the Hornets and “create something special here” because he loves living in Charlotte. But the 6-foot-1 point guard appeared to slightly back off those statements as the 2018-19 season ended, saying repeatedly “I want to win.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.