Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart react to Celtics' Kemba Walker trade

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Tatum, Smart show Kemba love in heartfelt social media posts originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Debate Kemba Walker's ability or the merits of his contract all you want, but there's no debating his character.

Despite battling a knee injury that limited his effectiveness after signing a four-year, $141 million max contract in 2019, the veteran guard is widely regarded as a class act and exceptional teammate.

Forsberg: What Kemba-Horford trade means for Celtics

Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart confirmed as much Friday after the Boston Celtics traded Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tatum was the first to react to the news, calling Walker his "boy (for life)" in an Instagram story.

Jayson Tatum Kemba Walker
Jayson Tatum Kemba Walker

Instagram/jaytatum0

Smart then chimed in on Twitter, calling Kemba "one of the best teammates I've ever had."

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That's high praise from Tatum and Smart considering Walker was only in Boston for two seasons. Tatum, Smart and Jaylen Brown formed an early bond with the veteran guard, though, as the quartet played together for Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Walker averaged 20.4 points per game during his first Celtics season, willingly taking a backseat to Tatum and Brown after being the Charlotte Hornets' go-to scorer for several seasons. And while he only played in 43 games during an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign, his unselfish play and positive attitude played an important role in Tatum and Brown's rise to stardom.

Trading Walker made sense for the Celtics, who gained more cap flexibility while bringing back a familiar face in Al Horford and a promising big man in Moses Brown. But even if he didn't live up to expectations on the court, Walker will be missed in Boston's locker room.

UPDATE (3:25 p.m. ET): Celtics big man Tristan Thompson, who played with Walker for one season, added his praise of the point guard Friday afternoon.

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