Analyzing Which Team Won the Kemba Walker Trade

| June 23, 2021 8:18 am PDT

Brad Stevens replaced Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics. The now-former coach made a huge personnel change with his first move.

He dealt away Kemba Walker, who the Celtics acquired in a sign and trade with the Charlotte Hornets.

The point guard is due over $36 million a year for the next two seasons with the Thunder. His deal also has a player option for the 2022-23 season. Kemba will look to remodel his game into an elite point guard like he is paid as.

The timing of this trade is unusual, as the 2021 NBA Combine is set to begin on June 22nd. It’s interesting that the Celtics didn’t want to wait until after the combine, just in case they didn’t want to miss out on anyone in the 16th slot in the 2021 NBA draft.

Regardless, it’s a bold move that could be beneficial for both teams involved. Let’s explore this deal a bit further and see who won the Kemba Walker trade.

Full Kemba Walker Trade Details

  • To OKC: PG Kemba Walker, #16 overall pick in 2021 NBA draft, and a 2025 second-round pick
  • To BOS: PF/C Al Horford, C Moses Brown, and 2023 second-round pick

The known players in this trade include Kemba Walker from Boston and Al Horford and Moses Brown from Oklahoma City. The players who have yet to be determined, won’t be fully known until all the way in 2025.

On the surface, this trade doesn’t look like much. However, the veteran Horford tentatively fortifies a sometimes-shaky frontcourt for Boston.

Horford should be able to giver the Celtics good minutes down low and space the floor, while also assisting with the development of the incoming Brown and Robert Williams.

As for Walker, he gets a severe downgrade as far as trying to win now. He goes from a playoff contender to a Thunder team in full-blown rebuilding mode.

Walker probably isn’t too excited about that, but he also could beef up his trade value, while OKC can flip him down the road in another deal. OKC continues to collect assets, per usual, and will likely put the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft to good use.

Financial Relief in Boston

The Celtics get back one of their former players in Horford, along with 7’2, 21-year-old Moses Brown. They also get a 2023 second-round pick.

Boston also gets financial relief as Walker was due a good chunk of change over the next two seasons.

  • 2021: $36,016,200 in 2021-22
  • 2022: $37,653,300 in 2022-23

This likely wasn’t the kind of money Boston wanted to eat for an often-injured guard that was never the ideal fit with the franchise.

Horford is due $27,000,000 in 2021-22 and $26,500,000 in 2022-23, so the Celtics shave off over $9 million per season on the salary cap, while also addressing a need.

The Return of Al Horford

When Horford was on the Celtics, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists. The big man should also be able to provide that veteran presence in the locker room for the young Celtics bigs.

A great locker room presence, Horford could still give Boston good minutes, and his return is a welcome sight for Celtics fans.

Moses Brown joins Robert Williams and Tristan Thompson in their now-crowded frontcourt. The Celtics appear to be letting Semi Ojeleye, Luke Kornet, and Moritz Wagner go in free agency. Tacko Fall also is a restricted free agent, so the Celtics might have a lot of new faces next season.

Newcomer Moses Brown averaged 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.1 blocks per game. His stat lines were sporadic, but that isn’t a big deal since he’s a really young player.

He has put up some duds, but he has shown flashes of real talent. He has put up some monster stat lines later in the year when the Thunder unleashed him.

In his last game of the season, he went berserk on the Clippers. His monster stat line included 24 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks. He also had a game with 21 points and 23 rebounds against his new team, the Celtics.

If the Celtics can continue his development, he can be a great player.

What the Thunder Get

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Oklahoma City Thunder have acquired another first round pick.

The Thunder have been extremely active in the trade market and now own 18 first-round draft picks in the next seven years.

They also have 18 second-round picks in the next 7 seasons, bringing the total to 36 total draft picks.

The #16 overall draft pick is now the Thunder’s and will be their 4th first-round selection in this year’s draft. They continue to stockpile draft picks and could be dangerous in a couple years, if they draft up to their potential.

Along with this year’s first round pick, they get another second-round pick in 2025. It will be a while before that pick will come to fruition and a lot of people will probably forget how they even got it, but that doesn’t take away its value.

Who Won the Kemba Walker Trade?

Both teams receive great pieces and neither of them will be done making moves. The Celtics still have a lot of talent, and they will be gunning for the NBA Finals again behind their star Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics could have been looking to get some money so they can afford Tatum’s max extension, and this trade reflects that. Their starting lineup for next season will now look like this, barring any changes.

  • PG: Marcus Smart
  • SG: Evan Fournier
  • SF: Jaylen Brown
  • PF: Jayson Tatum
  • C: Al Horford

The Thunder will do something similar that they did with Chris Paul. Kemba will look to increase his value next season and could potentially be traded to a contender for more picks.

The Thunder won’t be any huge threat for this upcoming season, but their lineup will look like this so far.

  • PG: Kemba Walker
  • SG: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • SF: Aleksej Pokusevski
  • PF: Darius Bazley
  • C: Isaiah Roby

In my book, this is a huge win for the Thunder. They get to showcase a good player in Kemba Walker and could flip him for more picks. Plus, they get a solid first-round pick this season at #16 overall.

The Celtics don’t necessarily “lose” the trade, but they now are relying on Marcus Smart to be their point guard, and this could’ve been the move that opens up money for them to extend Jayson Tatum.

Both of these teams’ starting lineups may change following the draft and more trades, but this trade shows where each of these teams’ focuses will be at this upcoming season.

Anthony Haage

Anthony is a sports writer for covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more. He also covers other various topics such as entertainment, general sports betting tips, and more.

His favorite teams are the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Cubs, and Blackhawks. He also will be a temporary fan of any team if it means winning him bets.

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