GM Kupchak: Kemba Walker a ‘focal point’ of Hornets

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak reportedly is perusing the market for a big man.

Rumors of Kemba Walker being on the fast track out of Charlotte are just that, at least according to new Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak.

A 28-year-old two-time All-Star, Walker has one season left on his contract that will pay him a modest (by NBA standards) $12 million next season. Given Charlotte’s salary-cap situation, it’s almost a practical impossibility for the Hornets to sign Walker to an extension before he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.

However, Kupchak said Friday Walker is “revered” in the Charlotte community and he and owner Michael Jordan view him as “the focal point of the franchise going forward.”

Still, the contract situation is problematic for the Hornets.

“I think everybody is aware of the situation, if you follow basketball a little bit,” Kupchak said. “It is unique that he is on an extension that may make it a challenge going forward to figure out before he becomes a free agent.”

Still, Kupchak is refusing to give up hope the team can keep Walker in Charlotte. He is the franchise’s all time leading scorer.

“I don’t think it is anybody’s goal to lose him in free agency,” Kupchak said. “But going forward, in the community, in the franchise, this is a player that we hope is with us — not only for the next couple of years, but ends his career here.”