The uncertainty of performances of the Boston Celtics last season was dreadful, one of the results of which was point guard Kyrie Irving and power forward Al Horford’s respective departures. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets denied three-time All-Star Kemba Walker a max deal after eight years as starting point guard, ultimately setting him up as Irving’s replacement. Despite the less than desirable offer from Charlotte, Walker claims leaving the Hornets was the hardest decision of his life.
“Charlotte is all I know. It was the hardest decision of my life,” Walker said upon being introduced as a Celtic. “Been there for eight years.”
Even with multiple offers from other teams, the Celtics’ name and proud history were big selling points.
“Boston was more appealing to me because of the amount of banners they have,” said Walker. “I want to win. I haven’t won constantly. I want a taste of that.”
Also, he has the comfort of residing close to home. Walker is quite fond of the Northeast. Walker explains, “I have so many ties to this area. I’m from New York, which is only 4 hours away. I went to UConn. It’s perfect.”
As an addendum, he wanted to have Brad Stevens as a coach.
“Coach Stevens is a great coach. He has had a lot of success in this league as a head coach. He was a factor in my decision, as well. I wanted to play for him.”
Brad Stevens is a fan of Walker as well. Stevens claims to have been impressed with the athlete since Walker’s days at Amateur Athlete Union.
“I’ve been a fan of Kemba for a long time, saw Kemba play in high school, the AAU circuit,” said Stevens. I saw him too close and personal when he was at Connecticut. I’ve always been a huge fan of his. Not just the way he plays, but him as a person.”
Walker, a three-time All-Star, is a strong point guard, but has never played with a team as talented as the Celtics. In the last four seasons the Hornets did not make the playoffs. While, Walker averages 25 points a game and even hit a career-high last season of 20.5 field goal attempts. Walker wouldn’t need to score as much with the Celtics. The comparisons between Irving and Walker are inevitable. Irving is a better skilled player than Kemba. However, Kemba’s eagerness to be a part of a team and not the immediate leader could prove to be a lethal weapon for Boston in their quest to get back to the NBA Finals.
Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said, “our Plan A was Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter. We are very fortunate that they choose the Boston Celtics. Very excited about what they bring in many facets of the game, but also as people.”
The Celtics seem to be centering the team around potential All-Star Jayson Tatum. Walker may not only be the leader needed to dominate the East, but the partner needed for Jayson Tatum to reach his full potential. Walker’s playmaking skills can provide a better chance for Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to showcase their talents. With the addition of eight-year veteran, Enes Kanter to the rotation will guarantee a more powerful defensive.
Walker’s eagerness to lead may be the key the Celtics need to win the East.