DALLAS – Entering the NBA offseason, the Dallas Mavericks face a need to bolster the supporting cast around Luka Doncic. Among their needs is a secondary ball handler who can help shoulder the load while Doncic is on the floor while also leading the unit when he’s on the sidelines.
A potential option for the Mavericks that has become a quickly-emerging one is a trade with the Boston Celtics in order to land Kemba Walker.
Both Walker and the Celtics reportedly “want a breakup” this offseason and a reasonable accommodation would be via trade.
According to Bleacher Report’s Farbod Esnaashari, Walker was “hurt” by the Celtics’ efforts to trade him. There was reportedly a rift that resulted in his relationship with Danny Ainge. Now, he no longer “feels wanted.”
A source close to Walker said he was hurt by Boston’s efforts to trade him, which created a rift in the Walker-Ainge relationship. Walker has a great relationship with his teammates and looked forward to being a veteran mentor to Tatum and Brown, but the same can’t be said about Walker and the front office. He no longer feels wanted.
Esnaashari noted some potential landing spots for Walker with the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks being mentioned, while highlighting a possible Walker-for-Porzingis swap. Both teams face circumstances that to us justify taking a chance on a potential deal.
The Knicks have roughly $60 million in cap space and could take on Walker’s contract while making other free-agency moves. The playoffs proved the Knicks need another scoring option besides Julius Randle; the team ranked last in postseason points per game, averaging only 97.0.
Another team that could easily assimilate Walker would be the Dallas Mavericks. Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly frustrated with his role and was used less and less throughout the playoffs; he had a 26.5 usage rate in the regular season, and it dropped to a career-low 16.2 in the playoffs.
Walker, 31, is coming off a season where he appeared in 43 of the team’s 72 possible games while posting averages of 19.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Durability is a concern due to his knee, but regardless, he’s still a shifty guard that can get a bucket.
The Knicks will have a variety of different options at their disposal in free agency. Taking a chance on Walker, who recently turned 31-years-old, doesn’t appear to be in their best interest. There will be options like Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, Dennis Schroder, Lonzo Ball, and John Wall among others.
In the Mavericks’ case, they would need to be engaging with the Celtics on a potential trade for Kristaps Porzingis due to Dallas’ salary cap landscape. In such a scenario, the Mavs would be adding a needed secondary ball-handler while swapping “bad contracts” for one that expires in 2022-23 as opposed to 2023-24.
Another team that has been mentioned as a possible trade suitor for Walker was the Oklahoma City Thunder by NBA Analysis Network’s Evan Massey. They have the option of moving Al Horford’s deal to the center-needy Celtics while being compensated for taking on Walker’s contract.
If the Knicks manage to land a more attractive point guard option in NBA free agency, the potential market for Kemba Walker will rapidly decline. The Mavs could use that to their advantage in trade talks, but at the end of the day, they need to decide if they’re willing to take on his contract.
Worth noting: Before Kemba left Charlotte to sign his max (four years, $141 million) with Boston in 2019, the Mavs (mistakenly) thought they had the inside track to him. If they want that track again? It appears available.