Will the Charlotte Hornets shell out a supermax to re-sign Kemba Walker, or will he head elsewhere in free agency?
When the All-NBA teams were announced earlier this spring, the Charlotte Hornets likely felt conflicting emotions.
Hornets All-Star point guard Kemba Walker earned his first-ever All-NBA nod, which in turn made him eligible to sign a supermax extension this summer. Whereas the Hornets otherwise would have been limited to offering him no more than a five-year, $189.7 million deal, they can now give him a five-year, $221.3 million contract.
Other free-agent suitors can only offer Walker a four-year, $140.6 million deal at most, so the Hornets could have an $80 million advantage over any other team. However, they must weigh whether they’d have a viable path back toward championship contention with Walker gobbling up 35-plus percent of their salary-cap space each year.
If the Hornets aren’t willing to pony up, Walker figures to have a plethora of other options in free agency.
The New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers can all clear two max slots with ease, while the Los Angeles Lakers could also enter the fray depending on the timing of their Anthony Davis trade. Throw in wild cards such as the Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks, and Walker may be one of the most hotly pursued free agents on the market this summer.
Based on projected salary-cap space, team needs and recent reporting, the following five teams stand out as Walker’s most likely free-agent landing spots.