BOSTON (CBS) — One of Brad Stevens’ first moves as president of basketball operations for the Celtics may also be his toughest.
Kemba Walker is 31 years old. He just played in 43 of a possible 72 regular-season games, and three of a possible five playoff games due to knee issues. He’s due to make over $36 million next season, and $37.65 million the year after that.READ MORE: You Can Give Mac Jones A Decisive Victory In First Matchup With Fellow First-Round QB Zach Wilson
All of that figures to be a problem. So it’s no surprise to learn that the team will try to solve it.
According to Brian Robb of MassLive, the Celtics are expected to “explore moving [Walker] in a trade to help create some current and future salary flexibility and reduce what is currently set to be the highest tax bill in team history.”READ MORE: Mac Jones Picks Up First Career NFL Win, But Patriots Quarterback Focused More On Fixing His Mistakes
While an attempt to get rid of Walker’s enormous contract is an obvious course of action, Robb said the team has a decision to make on re-signing Evan Fournier and/or trading Marcus Smart, who’s entering the final year of his contract. Robb said that having all three of Fournier, Smart and Walker on the roster next year is “highly unlikely,” due to the resulting luxury tax that would be owed by the Celtics.
When Walker did play this year, he averaged 19.3 points per game, his lowest average since the 2014-15 season. He also averaged 4.9 assists per game, up a tick from the previous season (4.8) but still off from his career average of 5.4. Thus far in his Celtics career, he’s averaged 18.6 points per game in the playoffs, along with 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds.MORE NEWS: Tom Brady Throws Two Touchdowns To Rob Gronkowski Vs. Falcons, Putting All-Time NFL Record In Play
Finding a way to unload that contract will no doubt be a challenge for Stevens. But if he can get it done, he’ll have a much easier time building the roster the way he desires in his first season running an entire operation.