NBA

Kemba Walker gets Knicks homecoming after OKC buyout

By Sports Desk August 04, 2021

Kemba Walker is joining his hometown New York Knicks after agreeing to a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.

ESPN and The Athletic reported the move, which sees Walker leave the Thunder without playing a game.

The four-time All-Star was part of a June trade that saw OKC send Al Horford back to the Boston Celtics and receive the 16th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

The Thunder, who are building a young team after trading superstars Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Chris Paul in recent seasons, turned that selection into two more in a deal with the Houston Rockets.

Walker's exit gives OKC more minutes to dish out to prospects and sees the Knicks recruit the starting point guard they badly needed.

Elfrid Payton started 63 games last season but lost his place after 13 minutes, one point and one assist in the playoffs. Frank Ntilikina appeared fleetingly in three postseason games.

Derrick Rose was promoted to a starting role, having rediscovered some form leading the second unit, but the Knicks lost all three of his starts and badly missed his consistent contributions from the bench.

Rose has returned to Madison Square Garden on a three-year, $43million contract yet will likely now serve as back-up to Walker.

Walker is expected to fit into the $10m salary cap space left in New York following the Knicks' free agency business, which included the signing of the guard's former Celtics team-mate Evan Fournier.

Walker, who is only two years removed from an All-NBA Third Team season with the Charlotte Hornets, still had two years and $74m remaining on his previous deal before Wednesday's agreement with the Thunder.

 

The Knicks will be hoping for an offensive boost from Walker, who was born in The Bronx and went to high school at Rice in Manhatten.

The best defense in the league, giving up only 104.7 points per game, carried the Knicks to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, but they scored only 107.0 points on offense, ranking 26th, and lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

Walker scored 25.6 points and played all 82 games for the Hornets in a career year in 2018-19, earning the move to Boston.

But a series of injuries kept him from playing or performing consistently for the Celtics, while his usage rate last year fell to 26.3 per cent alongside ball-dominant duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Walker will get the opportunity to shine again in a prominent role at MSG, as long as he can stay fit.

Related items

  • Ashes 2021-22: Warner hails Australia batting in the face of 'relentless' England attack Ashes 2021-22: Warner hails Australia batting in the face of 'relentless' England attack

    David Warner lauded Travis Head and Australia's other batters after they dominated England on day two of the opening Ashes Test.

    England were dismissed for only 147 on day one, and Australia put themselves into a commanding 196-run lead on Thursday.

    Head (112 not out) scored the third-fastest Ashes century - reaching three figures off only 85 balls - to take Pat Cummins' team onto 343-7 at stumps in Brisbane.

    Warner made an impressive 94 after being given a few lives, putting on 156 for the second wicket with Marnus Labuschagne (74) to put Australia in a strong position.

    Labuschagne has now scored four half-centuries from five Test innings at the Gabba, with Warner having struck over 50 as an opener for a sixth time at the venue, with only Mark Taylor (eight) doing so on more occasions.

    Speaking to Fox Sports, Warner said: "They did bowl well, didn't they? They were relentless.

    "What an entertaining innings by Travis Head. We've got smiles on our faces. It's got to be up there for him personally. It was a tight battle with him and Uzzie [Usman Khawaja] but to come out the way he did... that's the Travis Head we know."

    Warner's first near-miss came early on, when Ben Stokes bowled him but the all-rounder over-stepped.

    "Obviously getting bowled off a no-ball - you've got to try and keep your feet behind the line as a bowler," Warner added.

    "I thought I left very well. Everyone was talking about my form in the T20 stuff but when you're out of runs you deserve some luck."

    Ollie Robinson was the pick of England's bowlers with 3-48, and the paceman felt his eventual dismissal of Warner had been a long time coming.

    "I sort of felt like I was going to get him out every over to be honest," Robinson told Fox Sports.

    "He left well in periods but I think he played at a lot of balls he could have left. So hopefully throughout the series I can get his number a bit earlier."

    Reflecting on chances going down in the field, with Rory Burns' routine drop from a Warner edge a particular low point, Robinson added: "We did miss opportunities early on but on another day we could have had three or four early.

    "It came out well. It felt like I was consistent and had a lot of play and misses. The closest thing we have [to the Gabba] is Headingley. It's nice to get that bit of extra bounce as a tall guy."

    Robinson did pull up with an apparent hamstring issue, but revealed it was only a minor problem.

    "It's okay," he said. "I came off for a bit of strapping, bit of maintenance but it's alright, rest up tonight and go again tomorrow."

  • Malone lauds MVP Jokic for inspiring Nuggets win over Pelicans Malone lauds MVP Jokic for inspiring Nuggets win over Pelicans

    Michael Malone says Nikola Jokic gave another demonstration he is "one of the better clutch players in the NBA" after he inspired the Denver Nuggets to a win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Reigning MVP Jokic scored a season-high 39 points to go with 11 assists and 11 rebounds in a 120-114 overtime victory in Louisiana on Wednesday.

    Jokic came up with the first 11 points for the Nuggets in the extra period to give them a cushion, and Denver head coach Malone hailed the Serbia star after his side moved to 12-12.

    Malone said: "He's not going to out-quick you, he's not going to out-jump you. He's going to out-skill you, he's going to out-smart you, and he does it so methodically.

    "He's one of the better clutch players in the NBA in the last five years, and tonight we saw many more examples of that."

    Jokic's triple-double was the 61st of his career and a fourth this season. He is eighth on the all-time list, two ahead of the great Larry Bird and one behind James Harden. Russell Westbrook leads the way on 189.

    He said in his on-court interview: "It felt good. The team believed in me. The coach drew a couple of plays for me. The ball went in and we just kept rolling.

    "Bottom line, I think they really trust me and I'm really comfortable taking shots in those situations."

    Denver face the San Antonio Spurs (8-15) on Thursday.

  • Ashes 2021-22: Head hits a century as Australia take control Ashes 2021-22: Head hits a century as Australia take control

    Travis Head hit his first Ashes century as Australia reached 343-7 to take control of the first Test in Brisbane.

    Head's place in Australia's line-up was under some scrutiny heading into the series, but the decision to give him the nod over Usman Khawaja paid off emphatically and he is still in place on 112 not out heading into day three.

    His century came after David Warner fell just short of a ton, striking 94 before falling to Ollie Robinson, the pick of England's bowlers with 3-48.

    A blow to the underside of Head's chin from an errant Mark Wood delivery could not even dampen Australia's mood.

    England were desperate for a fast start after a nightmare opening day at the Gabba, where the tourists were skittled for 147.

    Joe Root's men got what they wanted – Ashes debutant Robinson making the early breakthrough when he had Marcus Harris (3) caught at slip.

    Ben Stokes knocked over Warner for 17 but he was afforded a reprieve with a no-ball call, while Marnus Labuschagne's edge fell agonisingly short of Root.

    Warner was granted two more lives following lunch – Rory Burns dropping a routine catch on 49, while the opener was stranded outside his crease on 60 – but Jack Leach's dismissal of Labuschagne sparked England.

    Four wickets in the space of eight overs followed. Warner, Cameron Green (0) and Steve Smith (12) all sent to the pavilion as Robinson just missed out on a hat-trick.

    Despite the wickets of Alex Carey (12) and captain Pat Cummins (12), England – walking wounded with Stokes struggling and most of their attacking fading in the sun – were unable to maintain their charge.

    Head surpassed his century with a sublime on-drive from Chris Woakes and though Wood's beamer did deliver a blow to the batsman's jaw, his efforts moving Australia into a 196-run lead.

    Head stars as team-mates set the stage

    Head could well have put this game out of England's reach. His innings so far has included 12 boundaries and two sixes. Only four players have scored a faster hundred for Australia in a men's Test innings (Adam Gilchrist, Jack Gregory, Warner, Matthew Hayden).

    While they did not have centuries to show for their efforts, Warner and Labuschagne enjoyed stellar days. Warner posted his sixth 50-plus score as an opening batsman at the Gabba, equalling Bill Lawry for the second most at the ground in the format as an opener – only Mark Taylor (eight) has more. Labuschagne, meanwhile, recorded his fourth 50-plus score in five career innings at the Gabba.

    No-ball embarrassment

    Umpiring and technology were in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after Stokes' early spell. Having been denied the wicket of Warner due to a no-ball, analysis of his spell showed the England star had overstepped 14 times with only two no-balls called. The reason? The technology had failed, leaving the umpires to make the calls.

    As for Stokes, he finished with disappointing figures of 0-50 from nine overs, suffering a knee injury in the field to further compound a so-far frustrating return.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.