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New York Knicks Get: Kemba Walker
Charlotte Hornets Get: Trey Burke, Lance Thomas, Nos. 9 and 37 picks in 2018 NBA draft
The New York Knicks could get another entertaining point guard with the No. 9 pick of the 2018 NBA draft. Dipping back into Jonathan Wasserman’s latest mock draft for Bleacher Report, they’d be able to select from Collin Sexton, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Anfernee Simmons if they wanted a new body at the 1 rather than trusting Frank Ntilikina and Trey Burke right away.
But what if they could make an immediate upgrade and set the stage for a quicker return to the postseason?
By parting with Burke, Lance Thomas, that top selection and a second-rounder, they should be able to get their hands on Kemba Walker. He could pair him with Kristaps Porzingis to create one of the NBA’s most exciting pick-and-roll/pop tandems.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor was on board back with this idea in late March, also mentioning that the Knicks have bigger salaries they could include while taking back one of the Charlotte Hornets’ unpalatable contracts to smooth the transaction:
“The Knicks aren’t a winning team, but New York is home for Walker, who grew up in the Bronx, graduated from Rice High School in Harlem, and went to college about three hours away at UConn. The most memorable moment of his career to date came at Madison Square Garden. Helping put the Knicks back on the winning track could be something of a full-circle moment for Walker. Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis and Walker would be a formidable duo that could appeal to free agents when the Knicks can create cap space in 2019.”
The Hornets, meanwhile, would have a tough time accepting a Walker departure. But after years in the NBA’s version of purgatory, caught squarely between contention and a true rebuild, and still bereft of the cap space necessary to make substantial improvement, starting from scratch is the right call.
Burke is intriguing enough to allow some hope of enduring competitiveness, but Charlotte would be far more interested in that top-10 selection. Pair it with its No. 11 pick (or package the two to move further up), and it has access to more attractive youngsters working in conjunction with Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk.