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The NBA is full of guys who are content to put up big numbers and collect nice paychecks, winning coming a distant third on their priority lists.
Kemba Walker is not one of them.
The Charlotte Hornets All-Star point guard is having another standout season, averaging 22.7 points and 5.8 assists. However, Charlotte is 29-38 and has no realistic chance to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive season, something that does not sit well with the 6-foot-1, 172-pound point guard.
With one more season on his contract, which calls for him to be paid $12 million in 2018-19, Walker is one of the league’s best bargains. Come summer, he will be one season from unrestricted free agency, making him a prime trade target.
Would Walker prefer to be dealt or is he willing to endure another rebuild with the Hornets?
“I’m not sure. Nobody wants to lose. Especially not me,” Walker told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer after practice Friday, following the Hornets’ fifth consecutive loss Thursday night, at home against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Hornets (29-38) snapped their five-game skid with a 122-115 victory over visiting Phoenix on Saturday. However, leading by 22 points going into the fourth quarter, Charlotte coach Steve Clifford was forced to reinsert his starters with four minutes to play to secure the much-needed victory.
Walker, a seven-year pro out of the University of Connecticut, has endured more than his fair share of losing. As a rookie. the Hornets went just 7-59 in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, posting the lowest single-season winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.
It’s not known whether Walker, at 27 and in the prime of his career, would want to be the centerpiece of another teardown and rebuild in Charlotte or if the team would look to move him for younger, cheaper assets. Team owner Michael Jordan is searching for a new general manager after informing Rich Cho in February that his contract would not be renewed.
“I haven’t thought about any of that,” Walker said. “It’s something I’ve got to deal with whenever it happens. It’s just not something that has come up to me.”