Entering the 2019 free agency, Kemba Walker was eligible to receive a supermax offer from Charlotte Hornets that was worth $221 million over five years. Instead, Hornets offered Walker five-year, $160 million, which unsurprisingly proved to be not enough to keep him around.
Boston Celtics used Hornets’ “cheapness” in their favor and jumped on the opportunity to give the 29-year-old All-Star a four-year, $140 million contract.
The decision to leave Charlotte wasn’t easy for Walker, as he stated multiple times in the past that he wanted to stick around and lead the team to success. Still, he says he has “no hard feeling” towards the Hornets as he begins his new adventure.
“They offered, but it just wasn’t an offer I could accept.” – said Walker in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. “I guess that’s the (most) money that they had. I know they didn’t want to go over the (luxury) tax. Which I completely understand. It’s a business at the end of the day, and I respect the decision that they made. No hard feelings at all. I still love that organization and everything around it.”
“It was tough for me (to leave), and I know it was tough for them; for MJ (owner Michael Jordan) and Mitch to let me go. But at the end of the day you have to do tough things in life. It just happens.” – he added.
Kemba Walker is coming off a career season that saw him average 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. He also earned his third straight All-Star appearance and first All-NBA honors.
Despite him playing at this kind of level, Hornets repeatedly failed to build a competitive team around Walker and to make a step forward in the East. By making him a low offer, it appears that Charlotte was ready to see him walk away and start to rebuild a process that will probably see them staying in the lottery for years to come.