Kemba Walker is heading back to New England. According to multiple reports, the former UConn star plans to sign a four-year, $141 million max contract with the Boston Celtics once free agency begins on Sunday at 6 p.m.
UPDATE: Now that free agency has officially begun, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has confirmed via Twitter that Walker will become a Celtic.
Free agent Kemba Walker has agreed to sign a four-year, $141M maximum contract to join the Boston Celtics, Excel Sports agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2019
Rumors of Kemba to the Celtics began earlier in the week when The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported Boston was a “stealth suitor” for the guard. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki backed that up two days later by saying the Celtics were now the “frontrunners” for Walker. Now, it appears the deal is all but finalized.
Walker will join a Celtics team in the midst of transition as star players Al Horford and Kyrie Irving are both expected to depart. However, Boston still has a solid core with Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum along with head coach Brad Stevens.
In fact, those players are part of the reason Walker wants to join the C’s, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
Source close to Kemba Walker told me that primary reason for the All-Star point guard choosing Boston was chance to go deep in playoffs — and play with talented guys like Tatum, Hayward and Jaylen Brown. Doesn’t feel as if he has to do it all by himself - which was case in CLT.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 29, 2019
Walker has spent all eight years of his career with the Charlotte Hornets, who drafted him ninth overall in 2011 (when they were still the Bobcats). There, he didn’t experience much winning as the Hornets only reached the playoffs twice and haven’t done so since 2015-16.
While Walker has gotten better each year of his career — earning All-NBA Third Team honors and his third All Star Game this past season — Charlotte has consistently failed to put a solid team around him. The Celtics won’t necessarily be title contenders immediately with Walker, but it’s still a significant step up in terms of postseason aspirations.
Earlier in the week, Jim Calhoun spoke to the Eagle-Tribune about Walker’s potential fit in Boston.
“He would fit in perfectly,” the coach said. “He’s not like Larry Bird, who sort of had a scowl on, and would kill you. Kemba is a happy guy and does it with a smile. To me he’s a smiling assassin.”
“Boston will love Kemba.”