BOSTON - When the official period of free agency in the NBA began yesterday, all hell broke loose. Before documents for articles could even be opened, the entire landscape of the league changed. D'Angelo Russell is now a Golden State Warrior. Kevin Durant is now a Brooklyn Net. Jimmy Butler has taken his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Heat. And Al Horford and Kyrie Irving both officially departed the Boston Celtics and committed to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets, respectively. And, most importantly to Celtics fans, Kemba Walker is coming to town!
Once Boston and Danny Ainge officially learned that Irving was leaving, they prioritized a guard in free agency and before we could blink, talks with Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker progressed to the point where the free agent signing was all but official. As reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Walker officially agreed to a four year contract worth $141 million (definitely a max contract) yesterday and he will be a member of the Celtics next season.
For a little while, it seemed like Ainge was going to acquire Walker in a way that also allowed him to retain Horford, but that ended up being a pipe dream. It may be all for the best, as Boston now still thas the ability to add another big man along the lines of Clint Capella or Steven Adams,though Walker was undoubtedly the top priority talent.
He also seems like an excellent fit for the Celtics. His best season was the 2018-19 campaign as the Hornets came tantalizingly close to a playoff spot, thanks to Walker's leadership and his career best 25.6 points per game. He's not as straight-up talented as Irving, but he is much less likely to be a clubhouse cancer like Kyrie was. The new Net never quite figured out how to navigate Boston, but Walker is a New England legend (thanks to UConn) and is often regarded as one of the league's nicest players. He can lead the Celtics and make them likable again, all while helping them avoid a potential rebuild.
It remains to be seen how the team will fill out around Kemba (especially since Terry Rozier also departed Boston to, you guessed it, join Charlotte), but for now, Boston's got their guy.
Image via Flickr / Keith Allison