CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It's been a wild three days in the NBA.
The league was flipped on its ear Saturday when the Los Angeles Lakers gave the New Orleans Pelicans a king's ransom for All-Star Center Anthony Davis. The Pelicans traded Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hard and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
With Golden State's future cloudy due to major injuries to Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant (who was rumored to be leaving Golden State anyway), the Lakers could be looking to add another star to their lineup. And you'll be hard-pressed to find a better option than Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker.
Signing on to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the Lakers sounds like a pretty easy decision. But it's more complicated than that, particularly when it comes to money. Because Walker was named to the All-NBA team, the Hornets — and only the Hornets — can offer him a five-year, supermax contract worth $221 million.
The best any other team could do is a four-year, $140 million contract. That's nothing to sneeze at, but the Lakers are in an even worse financial spot. They only have about $24 million to pay a potential free agent, which is about $8 million less than the $140 million contract would pay per year, and way below what the Hornets can offer Walker.
There is one last hope for the Lakers financially. If they can somehow convince the Pelicans to have the Davis trade go through on July 30 instead of July 6, there's a technicality that could give them up to $32 million in cap room. That would certainly help when it comes to trying to land Walker.
"That's kind of the low end of what Kemba would want, but again, the Hornets, and Hornets alone can offer Kemba up to $44 million per year over five years, so very unlikely he goes there," said NBC Charlotte Sports Director Nick Carboni.
Last week, Walker did admit that he'd take less than the supermax money to help the Hornets build around him. But considering he's taken a discount in the past, it's fair to wonder how much of a break he'd offer Charlotte, especially if they're unable to contend for a championship. The Hornets have only made the playoffs twice in Walker's eight year career.
"This is where I want to be," he said. "If it doesn't work out, I'm definitely prepared to play somewhere else."
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