Sure, every player has their time in the sun. And from that point on, retirement needs to happen. Unfortunately for Kemba Walker, teams aren’t sold on his ability to play basketball right now. He logged nine games for the Mavericks this year before the team decided they wanted to go another direction.
That was off the heels of a season that went as poorly as possible with the New York Knicks. Walker’s UConn Huskies have been having a nice season, so there’s that consolation. Do you guess if it would be reflected in the College basketball picks of the upcoming tournament? Let’s get back to Walker and talk about why he deserves more opportunities.
He Scored 32 Against Cleveland
During his brief stint with the Dallas Mavericks, Kemba Walker didn’t get all that much playing time. His signing was a big deal at the time, but he still had some knee rehab to be done. When he was finally ready to make his team debut, there wasn’t much attention to it. That could have worked to his advantage if he had been given a truly fair shot.
He logged a combined 32 minutes across his first two appearances, scoring 14 points in mop-up duty. Though he was a backup for a stretch last season before his benching, it was still weird to see a guy that is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer coming off the pine. The Charlotte Hornets never had a player more dynamic as a scorer in their long history than Walker was for them.
And during his third game as a Mav, Walker allowed us to remember again, for a little while, why he’s a 4X All-Star and how he helped lead teams to the postseason as the #1 option. He played 42 minutes against the Cavs and finished the day with 32 points. He shot 12-25 from the floor and sank four triples. He grabbed five rebounds and also dished out seven assists.
Of course, he was the #1 option in this game since Luka Doncic wasn’t available. It threw Kemba to the starting five, and he was a +7 for the day. The problem was the team came away with a defeat. It was on the second end of a back-to-back, but this is the no-excuses league, after all. Seeing him play at this level was refreshing. The only issue was the minutes were not consistent.
Just over a month later, the team waived him. He headed back to free agency. After two lost seasons in a row, it’s hard to envision anyone giving him a chance. Tough situation after tough situation.
Worth Another Look
Of course, the Knicks were kind of a disaster last season. Coming off a year where they were the #4 seed in the East, they didn’t even make it to the postseason. As they rattled off losses, Tom Thibodeau continued to run his starters into the ground, with limited opportunities for his reserves. Walker, at this point, was nowhere near the rotation and not even with the team anymore.
This is Kemba Walker we’re talking about. He’s always been known for being a great teammate and is usually all smiles. Lest we forget his Triple-double on Christmas? He had a 40-point game. Let’s not forget that he can still fill it up. He made it to that exclusive list of guys who will only get short looks at this point. Coaches are no longer sold on what they can do for no particular reason.
The same is true of Isaiah Thomas, who finished last season with the Hornets but hasn’t had a contract anywhere this season. He appeared in games for three teams last season. His time has been very inconsistent since the Wizards cut ties with him a few seasons back. He has had flashes of playing well. But unlike Walker, he hasn’t been given any starting opportunities. All of his chances have had to come with him playing a limited bench role.
There are so many teams struggling with injuries and point guard play. If Boston chooses to move on from Payton Pritchard, perhaps they could make a move to sign Walker. They might also be content not to do anything. They had Kemba as their starter for several years.
Of course, the NBA GMs get the final say. Let’s see what happens. At just 32 years of age, it’s too soon to say we’ve seen the last of Kemba.