Classic Philly killer “Cardiac” Kemba Walker has seemingly fallen out of favor with New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau. Coach Thibodeau is going even further than removing his veteran point guard from the starting lineup. Thibs has removed Walker completely from the rotation as per Woj. From this, Thibs has decided to start a 6’6” small forward at point guard going forward.
Thibs also touched on the reasoning behind the removal from the rotation, saying, “It would be tough to play three small guards together,” as reported by Fred Kantz. According to the report from Kantz, Thibs only sees Kemba as a starter and that there would be no place for him on the bench, explaining why Kemba was removed in entirety from the rotation.
The Philadelphia 76ers have famously struggled against Kemba Walker over the years and have often been criticized for not properly addressing the point guard position in the extended absence of All-Star point guard Ben Simmons. This need for point guard depth and the lack of playing time for Cardiac Kemba in New York could create some room for trade talks surrounding the former UConn Husky.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a rough position in terms of trades, not really having anyone out of the rotation that can match salary. Kemba Walker’s salary is just under 9 million dollars this season, coming in at 8.7 million dollars this year. The only players who have any decent amount of salary this season and who aren’t on max contracts are Seth Curry, Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, and Jaden Springer.
Seth Curry would have to be completely untouchable in a potential Kemba Walker trade as Seth Curry’s elite play this year (51.2/41.7/91.5 shooting splits with 16.2 points per game) completely removes him from the equation of being traded at all. Curry’s abilities and level of play for the 76ers mean that he should be getting a contract extension.
Danny Green for Kemba Walker
The first trade the Sixers could offer would be a swap of Danny Green for Kemba Walker. Danny Green’s 10 million dollar salary allows the Sixers to straight-up swap defense for offense in swapping their aging 3&D 3-time champion for ignitable offense in a rough situation.
The Knicks would happily make this trade as the Knicks head coach is a great defensive coach and would love Danny Green’s defensive ability and three-point shooting. However, this trade would deplete the Sixers’ wing depth even further and in a time where the Sixers are just returning to some semblance of normalcy and overall positive health.
Switching out Danny Green’s perimeter defense and three-point shooting (42.6% from three this year) for an inefficient and undersized point guard who plays no defense just isn’t the move that I believe the Sixers would ever pull the trigger on unless Danny Green gets into the worst shooting slump of his career. Overall, this trade just doesn’t seem like a good one for the Sixers.
Furkan Korkmaz (and more) for Walker
The next possible trade would be sending Furkan Korkmaz as the key piece in a trade for Kemba Walker. Furkan, currently on one of the best contracts in the entire league, would be a nice piece for the floundering Knicks, bringing size and three-point shooting ability to a Knicks team that would be happy to have it.
With the Sixers, while Furkan would surely be missed, he is currently in a shooting slump. Surely, Steph Turkey will get out of it at some point, and his youth and loyalty are hard to trade away, but with this trade, the Sixers can secure an actual point guard other than Tyrese Maxey while not giving up one of their more important depth pieces.
The backup point guard would be Kemba, who would have Shake Milton at shooting guard, Matisse Thybulle or Danny Green at small forward, Georges Niang at power forward, and Andre Drummond as the backup center. That would be a seriously dangerous bench unit for the Sixers, with each player being able to give their respective starters a rest.
The problem with this trade, however, is the fact that Furkan’s super awesome team-friendly contract only pays Furk 4.7 million dollars this year. Kork simply doesn’t match Kemba’s nearly 9 million dollar contract. To make the money work, it would be necessary to include more players.
Such a trade would likely force the Sixers to give Shake Milton over to the Knicks along with prized first-round rookie Jaden Springer. With so much going out in between Shake and Furkan, and giving up on the potential of Jaden Springer before logging any meaningful minutes for the Sixers would be foolish if not downright stupid. Once again, just not a great trade for the 76ers.
The Sixers could try to pick Kemba Walker up with the always looming Ben Simmons trade, whether that means sending Simmons to the Knicks or scooping him up in some three-team trade, but that is just speculation at this point.
This leaves the Sixers with only one other real option, and that would be hoping Kemba Walker ends up on the buyout market. While that doesn’t seem like the most likely of situations, it is very possible, especially if the New York Knicks end up needing a roster spot following any trades between now and the playoffs.
If Kemba comes on a buyout, he would be a great player to add to this team, even if just for the last part of the season and the playoffs. Kemba isn’t what he was when he was in Charlotte, but he is still a very solid player who would help out the 76ers at the right price. The Sixers, however, would more than likely have to look elsewhere for a backup point guard, assuming the Sixers won’t overpay.