Report: Kemba Walker was ‘heartbroken’ over Celtics trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Trading Kemba Walker may have been the right decision, but that doesn’t mean it was easy for the parties involved.
Walker was “heartbroken” after the Boston Celtics traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Friday — “particularly because of his strong relationships with his teammates,” The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported Tuesday.
The 31-year-old point guard was a popular player in Boston’s locker room who brought a positive and unselfish attitude to the Celtics. C’s president of basketball operations Brad Stevens admitted the trade was hard to make because he “just really like(s) Kemba, period.”
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But the reality is that Walker is owed more than $73 million over the final two years of his contract and has a balky knee that limited him to just 43 regular-season games last season.
By trading Walker, the Celtics gained valuable cap flexibility to re-sign Evan Fournier, extend Robert Williams or Marcus Smart or pursue a third star to pair with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They also added a veteran who knows the C’s well in Al Horford and a young big man with upside in Moses Brown.
The writing may have been on the wall for this deal, as well: A report surfaced earlier this month that Walker and the Celtics had mutually agreed to part ways this offseason, while Weiss reported over the weekend that Walker and Stevens at times had a “tension-filled” relationship that may have expedited the deal.
Walker developed strong bonds with many Celtics players during his two seasons in Boston, though, and spent extra time with Tatum, Brown and Smart on Team USA during the 2019 FIBA World Cup. So, it’s possible that Walker both had a feeling this trade was coming and was emotional when the deal went down because it meant parting with several close friends.