NBA free agency news: Kemba Walker willing to take less money to stay with Hornets

Kemba Walker is weighing all his options before considering leaving the Queen City.

The Hornets’ star point guard on Thursday reiterated that he wants to stay in the city where his career began and added that he is even willing to take less than the maximum the team can pay him if it means facilitating a better roster around him.

“How can they not be?” Walker said about calling the Hornets his top priority, per the Charlotte Observer. “I don’t understand how they can not be my first priority. I’ve been here eight years. They were the team that drafted me.

“I don’t know if I’ll sign back with them. I’m not sure. But they are my first priority.”

The highest offer from the Hornets would be $221 million over five years, and Walker has already considered the possibility that even taking a pay cut won’t be enough.

“If it doesn’t work out (with the Hornets), I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else. But I’d love to be in Charlotte,” Walker added.

Walker told The Athletic earlier this month Charlotte “is definitely the team I want to be with, for sure.”

“Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career,” he said. “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, 29, was selected ninth overall by the Hornets in the 2011 draft but is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. While he has expressed his desire to stay put, he has also explained the team will have to prove they are capable of building sufficient talent around him.

The teams rumored to have the most interest in Walker if he fails to reach an agreement with the Hornets include the Lakers, Knicks and Mavericks.

The three-time All-Star is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 25.6 points as he played in all 82 games for just the second time in his career. He named third-team All-NBA.