It’s not often an under-30 all-star who plays the most important position in the NBA becomes available, so you’d better believe the ears of front office members across the league perked up when they learned the Charlotte Hornets were putting Kemba Walker on the trading block. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that Charlotte (18-26) is looking to reset its middling roster and could start by dealing its most valuable asset: an affordable 27-year-old point guard who’s racking up 21.7 points and 5.8 assists per game this year. There are no shortage of teams that could use a dynamic playmaker like Walker -- especially at $12 million next season -- including the Indiana Pacers. With no long-term solution at point guard, Walker makes sense as the next piece of team president Kevin Pritchard’s puzzle. And the Pacers, to be sure, could offer the Hornets and enticing package, but is this the right move for the Pacers? Securing the services an elite, young(ish) point guard sounds good, but does it make sense to put another ball-dominant guard in the same backcourt as budding superstar Victor Oladipo? Charlotte is reportedly seeking a combination of young players, draft picks and salary cap relief for Walker. Assuming the Pacers don’t want to move one of their three core pieces -- Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis -- that leaves them with 2017 first-round pick T.J. Leaf, a 2018 first-round pick and a handful of expiring and short-term contracts to entice the Hornets. The Hornets are buried beneath bad long-term contracts, including those belonging to Nicolas Batum (four years, $100 million), Dwight Howard (two years, $47 million), Marvin Williams (three years, $42 million), Cody Zeller (four years, $56 million) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (three years, $39 million) and are looking to unload them in a Walker deal. The Pacers align well with the Hornets in this regard, as not only do they have cap space but also team-friendly contracts that could be to the Hornets’ liking. Veterans Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic and Al Jefferson all own only partial guarantees for next season -- adding up to a total of just $7.5 million -- representing a potentially massive cap savings for Charlotte. Thad Young also has just one year left on his deal (a $13.7 million player option), while Cory Joseph (one year at $7.9 million) could also appeal to Charlotte. Though there are many iterations of this trade that might work, one that has been suggested includes the Hornets netting Collison, Bogdanovic, Jefferson and a 2018 first-round pick, while the Pacers land Walker and Howard.
The arguments for and against the Pacers trading for Hornets star Kemba Walker
Indianapolis Star | Jan 22