Much to the delight of the Boston Celtics, the Charlotte Hornets weren’t willing to pony up for arguably the greatest player in the history of their franchise.
The Hornets, who were eligible to offer Kemba Walker a supermax contract this summer, moved on from the All-Star point guard via a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, who presented Walker a reported four-year, $141 million contract. Charlotte acquired Walker’s “replacement” via the deal in the form of Terry Rozier, who surprisingly landed a reported three-year, $58 million deal with his new team.
ESPN NBA Amin Elhassan has a bone to pick with the Hornets for their handling of Walker, and he explained why during Tuesday’s edition of “The Jump” on ESPN.
“The Hornets were one of the main teams during the lockout complaining they needed more mechanisms to be able to keep talent with the teams that drafted them,” Elhassan said. “They didn’t have Kawhi Leonard on their team when they were demanding this. They didn’t have Paul George, didn’t have James Harden. They had Kemba Walker. So you argue for this thing and then when it’s time to pay him you’re like, ‘Eh, will you take less?’ I was so irate with the Hornets about this and I don’t even think Kemba is worth the supermax. But you’re the reason why we have the supermax, or one of the teams that was really vocal about that.
“Then as far as Terry Rozier goes, the guy’s never shot 40 percent from the field in the NBA or in college — in his life as far as it mattering, basketball-wise. He’s never shot 40 percent from the field. That’s who you’re giving $19 million a year to? C’mon now.”
It truly was a perplexing course of action by the Hornets, who easily could have traded Walker at some point last season if they had no intention of offering him the supermax. Charlotte likely would have received an above-average haul for the 29-year-old, who set a career-high in points per game last season (25.6). Instead, they watched a homegrown talent walk for nothing and filled the void with a player who might not even be a true starting guard.
The rich often get richer in professional sports. Conversely, perpetually below-average franchises tend to find ways to stay in the cellar.
Thumbnail photo via Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports Images