Well, the good times were bound to stop rolling sometime.
The 2017-2018 season has been disastrous thus far for your Charlotte Hornets. It has been a seemingly uninspired effort night after night, game after game. The misery of the grueling 82 game schedule has come in slow droves, with Wednesday’s win against the Washington Wizards giving the Hornets a glimmering 6-4 record in their last 10. They are 18-25 overall.
Now, just as a glimpse of promise peaked its head towards Charlotte, the unthinkable and unimaginable has happened. Kemba Walker is reportedly being put on the trade block.
Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski early Friday morning, the franchise point guard may be on the move sooner than fans would have hoped. Rumors have swirled all season about whether Walker would be leaving or not, but I think most fans put off those ideas as mere rumors. Now, reality has hit harder than ever and the only truly organic player in the Charlotte organization may be traded.
Most of Charlotte’s big-time players have been offered up already, with Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Nicolas Batum being the biggest three. However, all of their contracts are bad deals in such a fluid market. Both Batum and Howard’s deals are over $20 million a year, while Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist are incredible offensive liabilities in any system.
Walker has one more year on his deal, that earns him $12 million a season, making him a steal for any team in the league. The franchise cornerstone appeared in his first all-star game last year, making it to the final round in the three-point competition. He is averaging 21.7 points on 42 percent shooting and 5.8 assists per game at 27 years old.
I ignored these rumors for the most part, mostly because I wished they weren’t true. This decision ensures what management wants to do moving forward, which is basically hit the restart button on the back of the console. It makes it look like they are just giving up on everything they have been building since drafting Walker in the first round in 2011. That is because they have given up.
If the organization actually commits to this idea it would mark the end of the only progressive era in Charlotte basketball since the move back. Walker is what Dell Curry, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues are to the older generation. He represents the NBA in the city of Charlotte. You walk anywhere uptown and you will see people wearing a jersey with 15 on the back. At any pickup game in the Charlotte area, you can hear players taking a step back shot yelling, “Kemba!” The man is so important that you need only address him by his first name to let people know who you are talking about.
He is the culture of basketball in the city and he is the absolute single biggest contributor to the success of the Hornets rebrand in 2014. General manager Rich Cho has brought a lot of good pieces to this team in the last couple of years, but I guess it just wasn’t enough.
Steve Clifford’s appearance on the sideline against Washington was his first game back in the last 21 contests due to medical leave. The fact that the Hornets won 133-109 is no coincidence. Clifford’s absence has been a huge factor in the Hornet’s woes, and taking away his biggest offensive asset certainly won’t help Clifford win his future matchups.
As the February 8 trade deadline looms, all the Hornets faithful can do is wait and hope. This could prove to be a marquee turning point in the Charlotte Hornets’ history.
Kemba Walker ranks second all-time in franchise history in points (9,025), field goals (3,144), field goal attempts (7,620), three-point goals (893), free throws (1,844), free throw attempts (2,223), and assists (2,617). He ranks third in games played (484) and ranks first in three-point field goal attempts (2,546).
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