In what’s been a busy week for the NBA, the Boston Celtics have continued to make significant changes.
According to ESPN’s Adrian’s Wojnarowski, the Celtics have agreed to trade Kemba Walker, the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and a 2025 second-round draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.
Walker, a four-time All-Star who’ll be heading into his 11th season in the NBA in 2021-22, has had a trying time in Boston.
Despite both he and the Celtics’ obvious desires to succeed together, Walker’s on the court production has been substandard when compared to the eye-opening performances he put up with the Charlotte Hornets in recent seasons.
Add on top of that an uncharacteristic stroke of misfortune in regards to injuries (Walker’s missed 56 games since joining the Celtics), and one can say that moving on from the promising partnership is best for both parties.
That said, the Thunder in rebuild mode, as they continue to stockpile picks. Interestingly enough, many of the prospects projected to go in the range of the 16th overall pick play in the backcourt.
The 31-year-old veteran may desire to explore his options—whether it be a trade, an eventual buyout, or playing out the remainder of the season before making a decision on his 2022-23 player option—with Oklahoma City, as Wojnarowski notes Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Al Horford had.
While uncharacteristically streaky, Walker still averaged 18.6 points and 4.9 assists per game while playing next to a pair of volume-scoring wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. He could turn a season with nice numbers on an intriguing team into a longer-term deal, should he stay with the Thunder.
Meanwhile, Boston’s decision to trade Walker signals a strong inclination to bring back guard Evan Fournier, who they acquired at the trade deadline from the Orlando Magic. After reclaiming his starting role, Fournier played quite well for the Celtics, including a postseason performance that saw him averaging 15.4 points and 1.2 steals per game while shooting .433 percent form 3-point range.
Their acquisitions of Horford and Brown also have significant implications, as Tristan Thompson (who they signed in the 2020 offseason) could lose his starting role to either of the two.
Horford, who played for Boston from the 2016-17 to 2018-19 season, became a fan and organizational favorite in his time there. On the court, his versatile skillset—primarily his combination of floor-spacing and playmaking—could open up an offense that struggled with ball-movement last season.
The 7’2″ Brown could provide the second unit with a strong interior presence on the interior for the Celtics after averaging 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 21.4 points per game for the Thunder last season (with 32 starts), opening the door for a potential Thompson trade.