Celtics Trade All-Star Kemba Walker to OKC

Kemba Walker with Charlotte Hornets in 2017
Kemba Walker with Charlotte Hornets in 2017. Photo by Canadian Press/REX/Shutterstock

According to multiple reports, the Boston Celtics are trading All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trade comes two years after the organization signed Walker to a $141 million max contract in free agency.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that besides Walker, the Celtics are also sending their 16th pick in the 2021 NBA draft and a 2025 second-rounder to OKC. In exchange, Boston will receive veteran forward Al Horford, undrafted Moses Brown, and a second-round pick in 2023.

Walker was one of the most sought-after free agents in 2019, having made an All-Star team in three previous seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics brought him in believing he could be the franchise’s next star, but things didn’t exactly work out that way.

While Walker had some good runs in Boston, he struggled to emerge as a leader and dealt with various injuries that kept him off the court for prolonged periods of time. He only played 43 regular-season games in 2020-21 while also having a limited impact in the postseason.

Trading Walker is the first move that former Celtics head coach and now president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has made in his new role. While surprising, the deal will give Boston a great deal of financial flexibility to build around their young talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It also brings back fan-favorite Horford, who could resume his role as a veteran leader in the locker room.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, on the other hand, continue to fill their chest of draft picks. They will now have three first-rounders in 2021 alone, owning selections from the Miami Heat, the Celtics, and their own. Altogether, OKC has 18 first-round picks in the next seven drafts.

The move to Oklahoma City might not be a bad one for Kemba Walker, as he will get to play a prominent role without the burden of expectations. The Thunder might resurrect his career in the same way they did with some other veterans like Chris Paul.

Walker is set to play his 11th season in the NBA in 2021-22. His career averages include 19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game.