Kemba Walker called leaving the Charlotte Hornets as an unrestricted free agent “one of the toughest things that I definitely have had to do in my career.”
Walker, 29, agreed to a four-year, $141 million deal with the Boston Celtics and feels he’s now in a position to compete for NBA titles for the first time.
Kemba steps in for Kyrie Irving, who bounced to Brooklyn, and says he’s ready to “try and fulfill some dreams of mine and compete.”
“The hardest part for me is having to leave the city and organization that I’ve been a part of for eight years,” he told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “The organization that gave me my first opportunity to go from a boy to a man in this league. Charlotte, the place that I love very much. It was a really tough decision. But you know, it was something I had to do in order to try and fulfill some dreams of mine and compete.”
After a season of locker room turmoil often centered around Irving’s discontent, the Celtics crave the stability and leadership that Walker will provide — in addition to being an All-Star talent in the prime of his career.
Walker can plug into a Celtics lineup that includes Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown. Boston can still pursue a center with its $4.8 million exception and build a team that could be competitive in the Eastern Conference.
“When you think of the Celtics, you think of championships,” Walker told Van Pelt. “You think of winning, and that’s what I am about. I’m about competing for championships and winning. That’s something I haven’t been able to do throughout the early years of my career. I haven’t been a consistent winner in this league. I just felt like Boston was the best fit for me to try and accomplish those kind of goals.”