One of the most electric highlights in college basketball history. This is Walker at his funniest, but not the most accomplished. It’s funny looking back now, but Walker’s sweater was a legitimate question mark before entering the league.
Fast forward a decade, and Walker has proven to be one of the sport’s deadliest pull threats.
This is where its impact could be felt immediately in New York. Who is their best pull-up threat?
He’s not RJ Barrett, although he does end up as a wrestling and shoot guy. Being able to supplement his driving with shooting will be his most important development for the future.
Is this Emmanuel Quickley? Perhaps.
Heck, maybe it was Julius Randle last season. The numbers would be save that. It’s a testament to the kind of growth Randle has shown en route to a Most Improved Player Award; he can add an All-NBA selection to his credit.
But if Quickley is the answer, or if Randle is the answer, you have a void that needs to be filled.
The good news for the Knicks, and what separates them from other potential contenders, is that they have the ability to land Walker without sending anyone. The option exists for wage dumping – a true lower wages.
It’s hard to see either team do this. As much as the Celtics would like to withdraw from the Walker’s deal, they are still a team looking to fight. Give up talent – getting old and injured, but talent nonetheless – without getting whatever return could be a tough sell.
Maybe the Knicks would be willing to part ways with, say, Kevin Knox and a second or two rounds to make up some of the money. With Jayson Tatum’s deal slated to go into effect next season, getting swings on cost-controlled assets could come in handy for the Celtics. Even that doesn’t seem like enough, and it’s hard to push the Knicks for much more.
It could also be argued that Quickley’s organic growth, as well as the return of Sixth Man of the Year nominee Derrick Rose, would be more profitable – perhaps even significantly better – than bringing in Walker.
I briefly mentioned the Mavericks as a Walker destination in my most recent piece about Kristaps Porzingis. This particular exchange would likely require a bit more from the Celtics. They all have their choices going forward, and a few young tracks (Grant Williams in particular) that they could possibly talk about.
If it’s not Porzingis, the Mavericks have cap space and average contracts on the books (Josh Richardson if he opts, Dwight Powell) to swing if they’re interested.
The field case is quite easy to do. Walker could lighten some of the creative burden on Luka Doncic. He could do this as part of the starting lineup, as well as being the option of keeping the fort when Doncic sits down.
Walker-Porzingis pick-and-rolls could be quite successful; the tall man who looms around 28 feet as Walker weaves his way through the painting would be hard to deal with. Walker also has the shooting ability and movement skills to act as a natural off-ball addition to Doncic (and by proxy, Porzingis).
LOS ANGELES CUP
Among teams with no cap space to absorb Walker, I’m intrigued by a Clippers adjustment.
Getting the money to work wouldn’t be super difficult. Three of Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Patrick Beverley, Serge Ibaka and Rajon Rondo (assuming they agree) would do; I imagine keeping Morris and Kennard would be a priority for the Clippers in this scenario.
Among the current guard room, Reggie Jackson shines the most as a pick-and-roll creator for himself and others (77th percentile, assists included, by synergy). Aside from playing, especially during the playoffs, Walker would always represent an upgrade there.
- Finances would get tricky, but Walker to the Lakers would make sense if a signing and trade with Dennis Schroder could be worked out. The Lakers are in desperate need of someone who can stress the cover.
- Much like I mentioned in Porzingis’ post, the Heat could reach Walker’s money quite easily by exercising the squad options of Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala. Walker is a slight upgrade from Dragic, but it’s fair to wonder if the upgrade is big enough to justify the longer-term salary commitment.
- The Pelicans are another team that could make the money work easily (Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams), but they need to get on the defensive at some point.