Earlier this season, it was revealed that outgoing Celtics GM Danny Ainge tried to trade Walker, as the guard’s knee issues became apparent. FS1’s Ric Bucher told Colin Cowherd that “he was trying to get rid of damaged goods,” in a similar manner to the Isaiah Thomas trade a few years ago. The attempted move reportedly wasn’t popular among Ainge’s counterparts in other front offices.
After the Celtics’ disappointing season, which resulted in the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and a five-game series loss to the Brooklyn Nets, it sounds like the team’s shake-ups will go beyond the front office. According to Bleacher Report, Walker and the C’s are likely heading to a breakup.
“A source close to Walker said he was hurt by Boston’s efforts to trade him, which created a rift in the Walker-Ainge relationship,” B/R’s Farbod Esnaashari reports. “Walker has a great relationship with his teammates and looked forward to being a veteran mentor to Tatum and Brown, but the same can’t be said about Walker and the front office. He no longer feels wanted.”
Sources: Both the Boston Celtics and Kemba Walker want a breakup. The team tried trading him once in 2020, and it put a strain on the relationship since then.https://t.co/yiyJIexaoz
— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) June 9, 2021
Even with Kemba Walker’s All-Star pedigree, it may be difficult for Boston to find a trade partner here. He was limited to 56 games in 2019-20, and then just 43 of the team’s 72 games this year.
Moreover, Walker is just halfway through a four-year, $140 million deal. He is set to make $36 million in 2021-22, and then has a player option for 2022-23 worth $37.6 million. Given his health issues, he is very likely to take it. The Celtics may need to sweeten the pot in a major way to convince a team to take on Walker, who is now on the wrong end of 30.
Walker is a talented player and a popular teammate, so ultimately the Boston Celtics may be able to move him, especially if both sides are motivated to make it happen, but it may be a painful deal for Stevens to make.