Lakers Free Agency Rumors: Kemba Walker Calls Hornets ‘Definitely My First Priority’
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the drama hopefully behind them, the Los Angeles Lakers have a grand opportunity to improve the roster for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Armed with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a max-contract slot, the goal to land a second All-Star player alongside LeBron James and perhaps the young core via free agency or trade remains the same.

As Kyrie Irving reportedly is ‘more open’ to reuniting with James in Los Angeles, the next best point guard available is Kemba Walker.

While Walker has not had much success, he still calls the Charlotte Hornets his first priority, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic:

“Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority,” he 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.”

With Walker making the 2018-19 All-NBA Third team, he qualifies for a ‘supermax’ designated veteran contract now, according to Weiss:

When he finally found out he had made third-team All-NBA, he not only earned the greatest accolade of his career but qualified for a “Supermax” Designated Veteran contract if he re-signs with the Hornets this offseason. Walker can only receive a five-year deal from Charlotte, but his Designated Veteran status now allows Charlotte to increase its max offer from $189.7 million to $221.3 million. Any other team can offer only $140.6 million over four seasons.

During the 2018-19 season, one of the underrated storylines was Walker’s future with the Hornets. As their former No. 9 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Walker has only made the playoffs twice in his eight seasons.

If the 29-year-old did not make the All-NBA Third team, perhaps he would have considered signing elsewhere. However, with the Hornets able to offer $80.7 million more than any other team, his comments are not surprising.

While the Lakers do have Lonzo Ball as their starting point guard, he would be capable of playing alongside a scorer in the backcourt. Although Ball does need to improve upon his 32.9% three-point shooting, he does not necessarily need the basketball to be effective and his defense is a major strength.