Reports: Kemba Walker to be bought out, sign with Knicks

Published August 5, 2021, 6:30 AMNBA.com News Services

The former All-Star guard reportedly plans to sign with his hometown New York Knicks once he is bought out.

Former All-Star guard Kemba Walker is reportedly parting ways with the Thunder before ever playing a game for them. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Walker is finalizing a buyout from Oklahoma City and will be signed by his hometown New York Knicks.

Walker, 31, was 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.

He was acquired by the Thunder in mid-June in a trade that brought Al Horford back to the Celtics.

Should Walker join the Knicks as reported, he will join a team that has been quite busy in free agency. Walker’s former teammate in Boston last season, free-agent guard Evan Fournier, reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with New York. Aside from that move, the Knicks also reportedly re-signed their own free agents: guard Derrick Rose (a reported three-year deal), center Nerlens Noel (three-year deal), guard Alec Burks (three-year deal) and forward Taj Gibson (one-year deal).

Walker was a four-time All-Star, earning three of those berths during his days with the Charlotte Hornets from 2011-19. The Hornets’ all-time leading scorer, Walker left Charlotte in free agency in the summer of 2019 to sign with Boston in a move that was expected to help lift the Celtics into the East elite.

For the moment, it did, as Walker teamed with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to power Boston to a 48-24 finish and the 2020 Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics were dispatched in six games by the Miami Heat and had hopes of another strong season in 2020-21, but that never came to pass. Boston opted to move on from Walker and brought back Horford to give the Celtics the frontcourt presence they’ve lacked since he left two seasons ago.

Walker led UConn to an NCAA title in 2011 and made the All-NBA Third Team in 2018-19. He posted a career-best average of 25.6 points per game (43.4 FG%; 35.6 3P%), along with 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 34.9 minutes that year.

As for the Thunder, their rebuilding process will continue as they develop around rising star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who reportedly agreed to a max extension in the offseason). OKC has a cache of future Draft picks and will be working the five players it picked in the 2021 NBA Draft into the mix in 2021-22.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.