Kemba Walker made some interesting comments after Saturday’s game.
Kemba Walker played well in Saturday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, but his 29 points after a nine-game absence were overshadowed by comments during his postgame press conference.
Walker was asked if, despite being removed from the rotation, he wanted to remain with his hometown New York Knicks. The Bronx native’s response was, well, very New York in being blunt, but not so clearly direct.
“I want to play,” Walker said. “I don’t know. So it is what it is. “I don’t know what the future holds, you know? I do feel like I have a lot to give still. I don’t know. That’s up to these guys.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of his role, is it? Remember, coach Tom Thibodeau removed Walker from the Knicks rotation last month after he regularly failed to get in a rhythm with stars Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The only reason Walker even played Saturday is because New York had six players in health and safety protocols, and Derrick Rose sat out with an ankle injury.
It might not seem obvious, and he’ll never publicly admit it, but Kemba Walker is low-key angry at the New York Knicks. And after these comments, don’t be surprised if a trade materializes soon.
A Kemba Walker split was always likely
Remember all the fuss that was made over Walker signing with the Knicks? For some New Yorkers, this was on the same level as LeBron James going back to Cleveland. Sure, Kemba Walker was over 30 with balky knees now, but he was the missing piece. The perfect starting point guard to complement Derrick Rose.
The story practically wrote itself. Bronx-born. High school in Harlem. College at UConn and plenty of star performances in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden. Coming home on the back end of his career to continue the New York Knicks’ meteoric rise.
My grandfather once shared a valuable lesson with me. If you hire someone you love and respect to work for you, then you also put yourself in a position where you may have to fire them.
The Kemba Walker experiment fell flat on its face so hard that Walker was out of the team’s plans before Christmas. He proved Saturday he still has some left in the tank, and verbally stated he wants to play.
In New Yorkese, that means one thing: “This isn’t working. Let’s move on before this becomes a distraction.”
It’s most important to remember that nobody wins in this situation. Even though the Knicks only committed two years and about $17.9 million to Walker, this is a bad look. Removing him from the rotation was controversial enough, albeit necessary, but the man is now clearly unhappy.
Simply put, if the New York Knicks have any respect for Kemba Walker, they’ll trade him well before the Feb. 10 deadline. He became trade-eligible on Dec. 15, and plenty of teams could use a ball-dominant point guard who can dish and work the midrange. Walker’s no slouch from three either and, poor Knicks fit aside, is genuinely a good, good leader.
He just wasn’t what the New York Knicks needed after all, and that’s okay. Leon Rose and Scott Perry are both human beings who make mistakes. Unless they own their mistake soon and trade Kemba Walker, what was first a mistake will become a distraction.
And trust me, nobody wants that.