Kemba Walker on upcoming free agency: 'Charlotte's definitely my first priority'

Johnny Flores Jr.Yahoo Sports Contributor
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4890/" data-ylk="slk:Kemba Walker">Kemba Walker</a> wants to stay in Charlotte. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Kemba Walker wants to stay in Charlotte. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

As the dawn of the 2019 NBA free agency period looms, many free agents will soon have to make a tough decision about their futures. But for Kemba Walker, the decision is easy, stay in Charlotte.

Speaking with The Athletic, Walker expressed desire in staying with the Charlotte Hornets, the team that drafted him. “Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker said. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career.”

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Despite rumors of interest from other teams and a potential union with a team in his home state of New York, Walker remained steadfast in his appreciation for Charlotte.

“Charlotte is my home, man,” he added. “I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”

‘I just cried’ after making All-NBA team

This year, Walker was named to his first All-NBA team with his third-team finish. The finish capped Walker’s best season yet and made him eligible for the “supermax” contract this summer.

“I just cried. Tears came straight from my eyes,” Walker said. “I was a little kid from the Bronx, so it’s just crazy to me. I still can’t believe it.”

Across 82 games, Walker averaged 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Still, even with averaging over 25 points a game Walker felt that with the Hornets missing the playoffs, an All-NBA nomination was out of reach.

“I just didn’t know if I would get it, because we didn’t make the playoffs,” he said. “It goes like that sometimes.”

A similar situation played out his rookie season Walker noted, but this time the result was different, “So, when we didn’t make it to the playoffs this year, I just assumed I wouldn’t make a team because no playoffs, same situation,” he continued. “But they trolled me!”

Supermax presents vital fifth year option

The supermax contract allows Walker to sign a five-year $221.3 million deal with Charlotte this offseason. All other teams in the league can only max out at four years and $140.6 million.

For Walker, 28, that fifth year could be a difference maker. “I think at my age, whoever is my age in this situation, I think the fifth year is always important to them,” he said. “So yeah, it’s important for sure.”

While staying in Charlotte presents many lucrative options, including the most money, Walker said he will still sit down and contemplate his options for the future.

“I haven’t even really had a chance to just sit down and think about where I want to go,” he said. “But as it’s getting closer, it’s something that I’m going to have to really lock into.”

Wherever he does go, it won’t be motivated by money, “It’s not about the money though, I just love playing basketball.”

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