Kemba is coming to town for the holidays.
Kemba Walker, The Bronx’s finest point guard, couldn’t stop smiling in August when talking about the Knicks at a Players Association function at Basketball City at Pier 36. Walker even knew the holiday date of the Hornets’ first visit to the Garden.
Yes, it is Sunday night, and Walker, amid his career year at the perfect time, should hear some holiday cheer from the Garden crowd. Walker attended Saturday night’s UConn-Florida State game in Newark.
The 28-year-old former UConn great will be a free agent, the Knicks will have a lot of cap space and are still desperate for a point guard, especially with Frank Ntilikina’s stock sliding.
With Kyrie Irving claiming he’s re-signing with Boston, Walker’s emergence this season has lifted him a lot higher on the Knicks’ radar. He’s averaging 25.8 points, 6.2 assists and is third in the NBA in plus-minus.
“I’ve been hearing it for years now — the Knicks,” Walker said in August. “Every time I come home, it’s, ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”
Walker really doesn’t know yet, but he reiterated his desire to the Charlotte media before training camp that he hopes he can re-sign before another club approaches. Owner Michael Jordan said last month after Walker’s 60-point game vs. Philly that it’s a major priority.
Not referring to his desire to sign with the Knicks but his love of the arena, Walker was quoted Friday in the Charlotte Observer, saying:
“What kid doesn’t want to play in MSG? I’ve been fortunate enough to play there many, many times during my basketball career. Every chance I get to play there, I try to embrace it. I just love playing there.
“I will always have an attachment to and a love of that city,” Walker added. “That city made me who I am today.”
If Irving and Kevin Durant aren’t coming, Walker would be a terrific fit — even if he’s 28 like John Wall. He’d have to leave a final year on the table, though, to sign with his hometown team. The Knicks can offer only four years, $140 million. Charlotte can go five at $189.6 million, according to ESPN cap specialist Bobby Marks.
After leading UConn to the NCAA title in 2011, he was selected by Charlotte with the ninth pick — the same slot as rookie Kevin Knox. There’s been a lot of losing but Walker will land his third All-Star berth in February. Last year he was an injury replacement for Kristaps Porzingis.
Walker recently told the New York Times he’s not a superstar: “I’m not sure,” Walker said. “Superstar — I mean, when I think of superstar I think of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, names like that. I don’t know if I can put myself in that category.”
He’ll get paid like one — maybe by the Knicks.
David Fizdale on upcoming decision to cut a player to make room for undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier’s two-way contract conversion. Ron Baker and Luke Kornet are candidates.
“That’s a Scott Perry question right there. I’m sure they will ask me my opinion but ultimately they will make that decision. It’s always the toughest part of the business, any time you have to make a decision about a young man’s career. It’s not always that you are not good enough.”
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