When Sam Presti dealt Al Horford and Moses Brown for the No. 16 Pick and Kemba Walker — it looked as if Presti found his new rehab project. Three months out, and that dream is officially over.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have waived point guard Kemba Walker. Once Walker clears waivers, he intends to sign a deal worth roughly $8 million with the New York Knicks.
Details on how much salary Walker will give to Oklahoma City is unknown. Similarly, there is no publication as to if the Thunder plan to stretch his contract or pay him out under his original two years.
Walker’s original shipment to Oklahoma City latched on some heavy cargo with $73 million guaranteed over the next two years. In a perfect world, Oklahoma City would’ve been able to trade away Walker over the course of this year’s Free Agency period. This pipe dream had a fair shot of playing out but as teams to the tune of the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, and Washington Wizards invested in point guards — there was no one at the table for Presti to deal with.
Kemba joins a decorative list including Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Trevor Ariza, Danny Green, James Johnson, and even more players in being acquired by the Thunder, but never scathing the court in its uniform.
A scenario with Walker was buyout had been less than ideal, but an inevitable choice for the franchise. Walker was the most well-established player on Oklahoma City’s roster, but a budding, young backcourt including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon, Ty Jerome, and first-round picks Josh Giddey and Tre Mann, meant both guard spots were clogged, and they still are. This move pushes the pendulum into rebuilding mode as outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, no one on the Thunder roster has marked a 20-point average during the regular season. In addition, there are zero All-Stars on the roster. Though with a young influx of talent, that’ll be bound to change.
Following Walker’s buyout, Presti will now lock his crosshairs onto filling out the roster.