Boston Celtics exchange Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City Thunder for Al Horford in package

Kemba Walker is heading to Oklahoma City.
Photo: Getty Images

Admit it. You wake up not knowing that NBA teams that don’t currently play could make trades during the playoffs. Don’t feel bad – a lot of people have learned this today, in amazing ways.

The Boston Celtics have traded Kemba Walker, along the 16th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and a second-round pick in 2025, at the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Al Horford’s Moses Brown, and a second round in 2023, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. It is Brad Stevens’ first transaction as president of the Celtics ’basketball operations.

By Boston, the move follows reports of a controversial relationship between Walker and the organization following previous efforts by former Basketball Ops president Danny Ainge to exchange views. It was the continuation of a topic in the eyes of other NBA general managers, with Ainge trying to part distressfully with a falling star, NBA reporter Ric Bucher told Colin Cowherd earlier this year.

“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba to the start of the year, knowing his knee wasn’t right,” Bucher told Cowherd. “I was trying to get rid of the damaged property.” It’s a question that Kemba deals with, and to his measure, he’s a bit like Isaiah Thomas. ”

In the NBA, they traded contracts as much as they exchanged players, and money was obviously a significant reason for the Celtics to run the deal. Walker owes $ 36 million this coming season 2021-22, with a player option for $ 37.6 million. Horford is expected to pay $ 27 million next year, with $ 26.5 million more to come next season.

Through the first 40 games of the 2019-20 season, Walker’s first in Boston, he had averaged 22.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 45/40/88 shots, and he was an All-Star starter representing the Eastern Conference two weeks later. It was around this time that Walker’s knee became an obstacle for UConn’s alumni. After the All-Star Game itself, which was played on February 16 – and in which Walker played 29 minutes – he averaged 14.4 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. 40/34/85, including six regular season Bubble games. In the playoffs last year, he raised 19.6 points, five assists, and four rebounds on 44/31/85 in the Celtics ’17 postseason games before being eliminated by the Miami Heat in the final of the Eastern Conference. This season, Walker has been limited to 43 games, in which he has averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and 4 rebounds in 42/36/90 splits.

The Celtics also landed an intriguing young center-back Moses Brown, who is on an overly friendly contract for the team. UCLA and Archbishop Molloy High School (Queens, NY) alum went unwritten in 2019 and then signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he played only in nine games. He was taken to the OKC Thunder this year, where he recorded 43 appearances and made 32 starts, averaging 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. During the season, the 21-year-old had 12 doubles and three 20-15 games, including a 21-point outing, 23 rebounds against Boston on March 27. He will earn $ 1.7 million next year and more than $ 1.8 million next season, and has a team option for just under $ 2 million in 2022-23.

As for Horford, he is reunited with the team that won his most recent All-Star bid with and spent 2016-2019 as his starting center. The Puerto Plata native averaged 13.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists on the 50/38/80 shot in three seasons with the Celtics. This year, he started all 28 appearances with OKC and apparently played too well, so they sent him home. He posted 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on 45/37/82 shooting.

And for the Thunder, this deal gives him three first-round picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, which will be held on July 29th. He also awarded them a total of 36 picks – 18 first rounders and 18 second rounders – over the next seven drafts.

Walker could be capped even before the next season starts, or they could rebuild his value and move him forward before the first deadline. It wouldn’t even be a shock to see the Thunder Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deal for even more choices, but for now, they have an intriguing backyard. I might not want to tell them that they’ve been together for so long, one way or another, even if they start the season on the same team.

The choices sound good; the Thunder will only have to do something with them at some point. Using a few of them to land the next disgruntled star to pair with SGA could be ideal, which could already be the plan for Sam Presti and OKC’s front office.

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