Could Kemba Walker be making his return to the Hornets? Here’s why it would make sense

By Chase Whitney

October 20, 2022

Photo: Alex Cason / CLTure

The Charlotte Hornets could stand to benefit from a positive headline after a tumultuous offseason. 

The Hornets collected a win in the season opener against San Antonio, cruising past the rebuilding Spurs and showing newfound activity and connectedness on both ends of the court. Moving forward, there are still some weak points in the depth chart with LaMelo Ball sidelined and one roster spot open. General manager Mitch Kupchak still has room to add to the roster. 

Terry Rozier, one of the best off-ball shooters in the league, will handle the bulk of the point guard minutes in Ball’s absence and the only other point on the roster is Dennis Smith Jr. If any position were to be shored up, it would likely be the lead guard spot. Coincidentally, a veteran point guard just sprung loose from his old team.

Kemba Walker was officially waived by the Detroit Pistons after the two sides failed to negotiate a buyout agreement. Walker will receive his full $9.1 million salary for this season on top of the $27.4 million from the four-year deal he originally signed with Boston. The $4.1 million bi-annual exception or the $2.9 million veteran minimum contract could be all it takes to sign Walker this season. Given his standing within the franchise and the team’s need for a veteran point guard to provide insurance while Ball is sidelined, Walker and the Hornets are a great match.

Last season with New York, Walker averaged 11.6 points, 3 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 36.7 percent from deep in 25.6 minutes per game (37 appearances). He started in all 37 games played, but was otherwise glued to the bench, making his last appearance of the season on February 16. While Ball is injured, Walker could easily slide in and split the backup minutes with Smith Jr., and would actually offer an interesting counter to Smith’s athletic slashing as a pull-up shooting threat from long-range. Of course, a reunion with former head coach Steve Clifford and some veteran leadership wouldn’t hurt, either. 

Walker’s best seasons came in Clifford’s offensive system, where he was allowed free rein as the offensive engine, using his electric handles and inside-out scoring to put up multiple 50-point games. If there’s any coach that’s going to put the 32-year-old guard in spots to succeed, it’s Clifford. Plus, the city of Charlotte could really use a sports figure to latch onto right now as the Panthers falter and the Hornets are trying to emerge from a summer of setbacks.

Check out the full 2022-23 Charlotte Hornets schedule.

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