© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Kemba Era Comes To An End

Jason Huber
June 30, 2019 - 6:10 pm

After eight years, 12,009 points, three All-Star appearances and two trips to the playoffs, Kemba Walker's time in Charlotte has come to an end.

Walker was traded to the Boston Celtics as part of a sign-and-trade deal that will send point guard Terry Rozier to the Hornets.

The Hornets all-time leading scorer has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $141 million deal with Boston to replace All-Star Kyrie Irving. Irving will sign with the Brooklyn Nets. 

In return, Charlotte will receive the 25-year-old Rozier from the Celtics, who reportedly signed him to a three-year, $58 million contract.

The deal won't officially be announced until the league's moratorium period ends on July 6. 

"The hardest part for me is having to leave the city and the organization that I've been a part of for eight years," Walker said on ESPN Sunday night. "It was a really tough decision, but it was something that I had to do to try and fulfill some dreams of mine and compete."

Over the course of his career, Walker is averaging 19.8 points, 5.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds on 41.8% shooting.

During Walker's basketball camp a few weeks ago, Walker reiterated what he had been saying all season in that he wanted to stay in Charlotte.

He even said he would consider taking less than the supermax to stay, which could’ve been $221 million over five years. Walker said many times he wanted to stay in Charlotte, but he also said he was open to talking to other teams if things didn't work out. 

Charlotte reportedly offered him a five-year, $160 million deal. If the Hornets were to offer Walker the full supermax, team owner Michael Jordan would have been forced to pay the luxury tax for the first time in the team's history and lock up Walker until he was 33-years old. 

But in the end, the discrepancy was too much and things never came to fruition.

The Hornets were struggling to stay above .500 this season and rumors of trading Walker or trading for an impact player to help him began to pick up near the 2019 All-Star Game. 

Not having nearly enough assets to trade for a star player, general manager Mitch Kupchak and Jordan stood pat and held onto Walker as the Hornets missed the playoffs for the third straight year. 

Jordan hired former Los Angeles Lakers general manager Kupchak to replace Rich Cho and talks surrounded the organization that Walker would be traded for assets in anticipation that he would leave once he was a free agent.

According to The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell during his appearance on WFNZ's The Clubhouse this week, the Hornets were "very close" to sending Walker to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018, to play with LeBron James. 

Charlotte decided not to trade Walker and he went on to average 22.1 points per game on 43.1% shooting

In 2017, Walker became the team's first All-Star since Gerald Wallace in 2010. This past season, Walker was named the first Hornets All-Star starter since Eddie Jones in 2000. 

Walker signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension in 2014, but Charlotte has struggled to put any strong pieces around Walker to make the team a regular in the playoffs.. 

Charlotte made the playoffs following the acquisition of center Al Jefferson in 2014. Jefferson was named All-NBA Third Team, but the Hornets were quickly swept by LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the first round. 

Aside from Jefferson, the team has experienced a multitude of failed lottery draft picks, free agent signings and trades under owner Michael Jordan and former general manager Rich Cho. 

Including Biyombo, other lottery picks include: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, second overall in 2012; Cody Zeller, fourth in 2013; Noah Vonleh, ninth in 2014; Frank Kaminsky, ninth in 2015; Malik Monk, 11th in 2017; Jeremy Bridges, 12th in 2018. 

Other than Bridges, who just completed his rookie year, every pick can be looked at as a major disappointment.

During Walker's rookie season, owner Michael Jordan elected to have the team go through a full-blown rebuild behind Walker and fellow 2011 lottery pick Bismack Biyombo.

The Bobcats finished the season 7-59, which still stands as the worst winning percentage in NBA history. 

Drafted ninth overall by the-then Charlotte Bobcats in 2011, the 6-foot-1 guard out of UConn quickly became a fan favorite, mainly because of his small stature and always playing as hard as he could. 

Even without Walker, Charlotte is over the salary cap. 

"It was moving onto the next thing. I gave that city and organization every possible thing I could give them. Now, it's about competing at the highest possible level," Walker said.

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