AP source: Kemba Walker headed home to play for Knicks
Kemba Walker and the Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to a buyout of the final two years of his contract, and once that is completed the four-time All-Star guard will sign with the New York Knicks, a person with knowledge of the situation said Wednesday.
Walker - who was born in the Bronx - and the Thunder have been working on the buyout parameters in recent days, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal is not finalized.
Walker is owed nearly $74 million for the next two seasons, including a $37.6 million option that he held for 2022-23. He never played for the Thunder, who acquired him in a trade with Boston in June in the deal that sent Al Horford back to the Celtics.
After helping the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference finals in the NBA bubble in 2020, Walker was limited to 43 games because of injury this past season and was limited in Boston’s first-round playoff exit against Brooklyn.
Walker spent his first eight seasons in Charlotte where he became the franchise's all-time leading scorer. He spent the last two seasons in Boston.
Going to the Knicks won’t just be a return home for Walker.
It’ll also be a chance to play more games at an arena that has provided some of his finest moments.
He won a national championship as a junior at UConn in 2011, concluding the season on an 11-game winning streak that began when the Huskies won five games in five days on the way to the Big East tournament championship at Madison Square Garden - the Knicks’ home. Walker averaged 26 points while playing nearly every minute of those five games to win the league, then went on to win the Most Outstanding Player award in the NCAA Final Four as UConn beat Butler for the national title.
In 15 games at the Garden as a pro, Walker has averaged 21.3 points.
Walker even played at MSG in high school against a team from Illinois that was headlined by Derrick Rose. Walker had 14 points, Rose 22, but Walker’s team from New York power Rice beat Rose’s Simeon High 53-51.
And now, the two point guards will be together at the Garden as Knicks teammates.