Kemba Walker is expected to receive interest from several teams as he enters free agency this summer, but it doesn’t appear the star guard is ready to leave Charlotte just yet.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Walker explained he hopes he will be able to reach a new deal with the Hornets.
“Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” Walker said. “That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.”
He added: “Charlotte is my home, man. I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.”
Walker pointed to the amount of security he felt as a rookie as one of the main reasons for staying in Charlotte. He explained from the moment he was drafted, he felt an immediate connection with the Hornets.
“I had no idea where I was going on draft night,” he said. “I was hearing so many different rumors about different teams I was going to get drafted to, but Charlotte traded up and took a chance on me. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to become the player I am today, so I have to have that love for Charlotte and that is definitely the team I want to be with, for sure.”
Walker’s first choice may be to stay with the Hornets, but the Lakers, Magic, Pacers and Knicks are all expected to consider signing the guard. Walker, however, admitted he isn’t thinking about other options right now.
“I haven’t even really had a chance to just sit down and think about where I want to go,” he said. “But as it’s getting closer, it’s something that I’m going to have to really lock into.”
The 29-year-old, originally drafted out of UConn with the ninth pick in 2011, averaged a career-high 25.6 points, along with 5.9 assists for Charlotte last season. He shot 43.4 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from 3-point range.