By: Will Burchfield
Don’t count on the Pistons acquiring Kemba Walker before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
For one, the Hornets aren’t all that interested in trading him — contrary to an ESPN report from last week. And even if they were, the Pistons likely wouldn’t be able to meet the Hornets’ demands.
Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan told the Charlotte Observer Monday night that he’d only part ways with Walker if the team received an All-Star in return.
“It’s not like we are shopping him. We would not just give him up. I love Kemba Walker. I would not trade him for anything but an All-Star player,” Jordan said.
The Pistons are said to have interest in Walker, who’s averaging 21.8 points and 5.9 assists per game. Detroit has been without starting point guard Reggie Jackson since late December and the team is 3-9 in his absence.
He’s expected be sidelined about another month with a sprained ankle.
Per the Observer, the Hornets have fielded calls on Walker, and in some cases they’ve initiated conversation. The team is seven games below .500 while the front office is hamstrung by a number of bad contracts. Trading Walker, an All-Star last year, could help Charlotte hit the reset button.
But Jordan isn’t ready to give up on the season. Nor is he ready to move on from Walker, the organization’s first-round draft pick in 2011 and by far its best asset.
“Obviously, the season has been a disappointment so far, and there have been teams asking about players. Also, we’ve been asking about players. We ask teams who they like on our roster and they always say Kemba,” Jordan said.
As much as the 27-year-old Walker could help the Pistons, both now and in the future, they don’t have what the Hornets are seeking. Andre Drummond may well be named an All-Star reserve Tuesday night, but he carries a $25.4 million salary through the 2019-20 season.
Charlotte is reportedly looking to unload salary in any trade involving its best player. The cap-tight Pistons don’t have the wherewithal to take a whole lot on.
Boosting Walker’s value is the fact he’s due just $12 million per year through the 2018-19 season.
“I’m not looking to trade Kemba,” Jordan said, “but I would listen to opportunities.”
Mired in a five-game losing streak, the Pistons (22-23) have fallen to ninth in the East. They’re one game behind Philadelphia for the final playoff spot.
It’s expected the team will make a move or two before the trade deadline, namely to account for injuries to Jackson and Jon Leuer, the latter of whom is done for the season. But a deal for Walker can safely be ruled out.