Why the OKC Thunder are not concerned about Kemba Walker’s knee

OKC Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
OKC Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The OKC Thunder made a rare trade while the playoffs were still on. They sent Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Boston Celtics. In return, they received Kemba Walker and the 16th overall in the 2021 NBA draft.

This trade works for both teams in that the Celtics got financial flexibility by moving on from Walker, getting the more reliable Horford who will improve their defense. The OKC Thunder received pick 16, giving them three good first-round picks in the upcoming draft.

The Thunder also received Walker, whose contract made the salaries work for the trade. He is going to either be traded on if the Thunder can find a suitor, or he will play some good minutes with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Why the OKC Thunder are not concerned about Kemba Walker’s knee.

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According to Adam Wells of Bleacher Report, the Celtics were concerned with Walker’s knee and how often he would be available to play at a high level. They do not want to waste the prime of the careers of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

The Thunder doesn’t have the same issue. Yes, they have the talents of Gilgeous-Alexander who is about to enter his prime but they still are looking to surround him with talented players of a similar age. Walker is older, so if they don’t trade him, he is going to be able to mentor Gilgeous-Alexander in a similar manner to Chris Paul from last season.

If Walker is not able to contribute on the court due to his knee injury, then he is going to soak up salary cap room so the Thunder can concentrate on getting more young talent. The Thunder have only $64.0 million on their books for next year.

If Walker does not set foot on the court, the Thunder have managed to get another draft pick. Yes, it may cost them $73.0 million over the next two seasons but this also has a positive impact on how the Thunder are able to structure their rebuild.

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