The New York Knicks have a serious point guard problem, which is why they’ve been connected to Da’Aaron Fox from the Sacramento Kings in recent days. However, after signing Kemba Walker to a two-year, $17.9 million deal, the front office is already looking for opportunities to unload his contract.
Walker has been incredibly inconsistent this year as a scorer, averaging a career-low 12 points, 3.4 assists, and shooting 40% from the field. At 31 years old, his career has taken a turn for the worse, but mainly as a result of Tom Thibodeau’s style of play.
It’s pretty difficult,’’ Walker said. “It’s just so different. It’s a different time in my career. I’m in a whole different position and role. But yeah, that’s on me to learn how to play with guys and learn when to get my shots and it’s just taking more time than what I’d like to expect.’’
Walker has always been known for his offensive prowess, but his lack of defensive production has made him a liability. On the year, Walker currently hosts a 112.7 defensive rating, the worst of his career. This is the first time since 2014 he has recorded a negative net rating, sitting at -9.4.
Despite the Knicks failing to utilize him properly, others may see the value in Walker off the bench, especially as a natural-born scorer.
According to Marc Berman, the Knicks are looking to trade Walker by the deadline, but what could he fetch?
The problem with trading Walker is not only his contract but also his lack of defense. Opposing teams that already have a situated defensive system may view him as a catalyst off the bench to provide scoring production. It is possible a team would be willing to offer a second-round pick for Walker’s services, but that would be an extremely lucky situation for New York, who would likely take anything at this point just to get the contract off the books.
Considering Kemba has gone two consecutive games without scoring a single point, the Knicks are better off trading for another point guard at the deadline or starting to utilize Miles McBride, their second-round pick from the 2021 NBA draft, more prominently.
McBride has shown quality on the court at times, enjoying his best game of the season against the Houston Rockets on December 16. He recorded 15 points and nine assists. If the Knicks can get that level of production even every other game, McBride would easily become the team’s leading point guard until Derrick Rose returns.
The more realistic way to get rid of Walker’s contract is to include him in a bigger deal instead of a straight-up swap. A team looking to acquire draft capital and has time to spare may be willing to take on Walker’s contract to push a deal through. The floated deal of Julius Randle for Fox may be able to include Kemba since they would be losing a point guard in the process.