Could Knicks pursue Kemba Walker trade this offseason?

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Kemba Walker alone on court
Kemba Walker alone on court

Kemba Walker and the Boston Celtics appear to be breaking up, as Bleacher Report's Farbod Esnaashari is hearing a mutual agreement to move forward without each other will take place this offseason.

Boston's shakeup in the front office doesn't have to do with Walker's want to move on, but rather Danny Ainge – who just stepped down as president of basketball operations – tried to trade Walker this season with Jrue Holiday being the reported target. That created a rift in the relationship, one that Walker can’t let go.

With the Knicks prepared for a busy offseason, should Walker be among their targets to acquire?

Let's, first, take a look at what trading for Walker would do to their cap space. According to Spotrac, New York could have nearly $60 million depending on what the team does with existing free agents.

A Walker trade would be a salary dump for the Celtics, and the Knicks' incentive would be most likely draft picks in return to fulfill their need to get Walker off the books. The 31-year-old's contract still has about $36 million and $37 million left for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons respectively (the final season is a player option).

The Knicks looked to use their cap space to absorb unwanted contracts in the 2020 offseason, so it's fair to assume they would be open to doing it again in 2021 if other top targets aren't available.

New York would be one of the main targets for Walker given their need for a starting point guard that can both facilitate and score as well as their current cap situation. Walker can certainly do that, averaging over 20 points per game in five of the last six seasons. This past year with Boston, who has Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to worry about on offense, saw a 19.3 points per game from Walker with a 42 field goal percentage and 36 percent from beyond the arc.

At the moment, the Knicks don’t have any point guard contracts to worry about with Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose and Frank Ntilikina all technically off the books. Rose is a candidate to return, though Payton and Ntilikina don’t appear to have the same amount of optimism.

But, back in 2019 when Walker was a free agent, teams monitoring the market never felt that Walker was likely to end up in New York, according to SNY's Ian Begley.

It’s worth at least paying attention to for now, as the Knicks may want to wait for a, say, Damian Lillard to potentially hit the trade market. There’s also Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul out on the open market as well.