New York Knicks fans have been dreaming of bringing former All-Star point guard Kemba Walker home for years – he grew up in the Bronx – and it's finally happening as Walker, 31, has agreed to a contract buyout with the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder and will sign with the Knicks upon clearing waivers. Knicks NBA futures odds at Caesars Sportsbook will not change with the addition of Walker just like they didn't with the signing of Evan Fournier. The SportsLine Projection Model also is unimpressed.
Oklahoma City landed Walker from the Boston Celtics in June along with the 16th pick in this year's draft and a future second-round pick and sent back Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick. OKC basically got the first-round pick as a tax on taking Walker's contract, which had about $74 million remaining over the next two years. He's just not worth that these days.
This past season, the four-time All-Star got a late start due to a stem cell injection in his troublesome left knee. Walker wasn't able to play any back-to-backs and averaged 19.3 points on 42.0 percent shooting – his lowest on both since 2014-15. Walker also missed the final two games of Boston's first-round playoff loss to Brooklyn. In the first three games of that series, he struggled big time in shooting just 31.7 percent from the field.
The Celtics traded him because they concerned with Walker's knee and how often he would be available to play at a high level – and Boston is closer to Eastern Conference contention than New York is. After elimination, Walker said: "I'm planning on a big summer and getting myself feeling good again. It's been a while since I've really had time off. This is an important time for me."
So, perhaps Knicks fans should tamper down their excitement, although in each of the past five seasons, Walker has averaged more than 19 points, more than four assists and three-plus made three-pointers per game. In the history of the Knicks franchise, no point guard has ever averaged at least 19 points, four assists and three made three-pointers in a season.
With Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley manning the point this past year, New York finished 41-31 and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Atlanta. Payton won't be back, but Rose was re-signed. Walker reportedly will make around $8 million per season with the Knicks.
The SportsLine Projection Model had the Knicks winning 43.5 games this coming season after the Fournier signing – which is back to 82 games – with a 70.5 percent chance of making the playoffs. Walker has not changed those numbers. Caesars Sportsbook has kept the Knicks at +4000 to win the Eastern Conference and +8000 to win the NBA title.
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