Pros and Cons of Bulls Continuing Trade for Kemba Walker originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Kemba Walker and the Celtics look set to go their separate ways.
After signing with the squad for the first praise in the summer of 2019, the lingering knee issues that erupted at the end of the 2019-20 season were exacerbated in 2020-21, contributing to a slack year and rumors of break-up are born.
With the Chicago Bulls in the market for a playmaker, it is natural to think about a potential adjustment. NBC Sports Boston, in fact, listed the Bulls as one of five potential trade contenders, float a chord who would send Thad Young, Al-Farouq Aminu and Tomáš Satoranský in Boston in exchange for Walker and Celtics first-round picks in 2022 (lottery protected) and 2025 (top-five protected).
This package highlights a crucial factor in any potential deal for Walker: Boston will need to attach significant project assets to move him. Not only is Walker 31, just having his worst statistical season in half a decade, and weighed down by the baggage of his knee problems (he missed 29 games in 2020-21 and was inconsistent when he played), he owes $ 36 million next season and has a player option of $ 37.7 million for the following year.
That means his contract, which expires right after his 33rd birthday, will pay out $ 73.7 million over the next two seasons.
These circumstances should make the Bulls suspicious. As Walker fills a need, especially in light of the news Coby White will miss four to six months to rehabilitate a torn labrum – and comes with the All-Star pedigree, there is no guarantee that he will ever return to the player he was. The once-explosive little guards on the wrong side of 30 plagued with lower-body injuries typically don’t age well, and even the best version of Walker would be a questionable defensive fit.
Financial details only add to the bet. Deal for Walker would severely restrict the flexibility of the Bulls’ cap for next of them offseason, so you need to be sure that a trade for him would be the final cure for any team ailments.
And all of that before mentioning the sting that would come with the separation of Young, the Bulls’ second-best player before Nikola Vučević’s arrival, and Satoranský, who could be a key part of depth with White’s status for the start of the season uncertain.
Now, there is an advantage to exploring the possibility, especially if the negotiations went as stated above. If a full offseason of recovery time allows Walker to return to his former form (he started the 2020 All-Star Game), he, Zach LaVine and Vučević would be a powerful attacking trio ready to step into the Eastern Conference. And those two first-round picks could intrigue the Bulls, given they parted ways with two of their own in 2021 and 2023 (both top-four protected) in trading for Vučević; Replenishing the Asset Chest would not only allow them to have more Bites in the Prospect Apple, but also have additional trade ammo to move forward.
But it’s ultimately a considerable risk for a Bulls team that has seen a flea pushing move fail to produce immediate results before. Walker is certainly a name to watch as the team pursue an upgrade to playmaker in the months to come, but Bulls fans should treat any connection with caution.