BOSTON (CBS) — Kemba Walker’s days in Boston are over.
The Celtics have found a trade partner for the veteran point guard and are sending him to Oklahoma City, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Celtics will receive Al Horford — who played for the Celtics from 2016-19 — in return.
The Celtics are also sending the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 draft and 2025 second-round draft pick to the Thunder, while Oklahoma City is also including Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick to Boston.
“Kemba is a true professional and a great teammate and player,” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said. “I want to thank him for his tremendous impact, and the positive contribution he’s made both to the Celtics and the City of Boston.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the deal on Friday morning.
Walker signed with the Celtics in the summer of 2019, as Boston tried to find a high-caliber replacement for Kyrie Irving, who departed via free agency. Walker made the All-Star Game in his first Celtics season, averaging 20.4 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game. But injuries limited him to 56 of 72 regular-season games, and his numbers dipped when the regular season resumed in the Orlando bubble.
In the playoffs, he averaged In the postseason for just the third time in his career, Walker averaged 19.6 points on 44.1 percent shooting (31.0 percent from 3-point range) with 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as the Celtics lost in six games to the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
This past season, a knee injury forced a late start for Walker, who also didn’t play on the second leg of back-to-backs. The team wanted Walker to be healthy for the end of the year, but injuries forced him to miss the final two games of the Celtics’ five-game series loss the Brooklyn Nets. He had averaged just 12.7 points in his three playoff games, after averaging fewer than 20 points per game for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Walker signed a four-year, $140.8 million contract in a sign-and-trade that got him to Boston. The 31-year-old has two years remaining on that deal. Walker is due to make over $36 million next season and $37.65 million in the 2022-23 season.
A five-time All-Star, Horford was a significant free-agent signing for the Celtics in the summer of 2016. A five-time All-Star, Horford earned spots on the All-Star Team in 2016 and 2018 with Boston. Anna Horford — Al’s sister — reacted to Friday’s news with a celebratory tweet:
WE’RE BACK BABY ☘️☘️☘️ pic.twitter.com/7hyUiHFpHV
— Anna Horford (@AnnaHorford) June 18, 2021
Al retweeted his own “Celtic Pride!” tweet from 2016 before thanking the Thunder organization.
Thank you to Clay Bennett, Sam Presti, Mark Daigneault, my teammates and the entire Thunder organization for their professionalism during my time in Oklahoma City. While it was short, it was first class all the way and me and my family are extremely thankful and appreciative.
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) June 18, 2021
The 35-year-old Horford left the Celtics in free agency in the summer of 2019, signing a four-year, $109 million deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. His stay in Philly lasted just one season, as he was traded to Oklahoma City in December. He played in just 28 games for the Thunder, averaging 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds, before the team shut him down in late March for the remainder of the year.
While Horford still carries a high salary — $27 million next season and $26.5 million the year after that — he does save the Celtics some critical dollars compared to Walker. Additionally, only $14.5 million is guaranteed to Horford in the 2022-23 season.
“Al played a critical role both on and off the court during his time in Boston, and we’re excited to welcome he and his family back to the Celtics,” said Stevens. “His ability to elevate teammates with his experience and leadership make for a great addition.”
Moses Brown is a 7-foot-2 center who went undrafted in the 2019 draft. He played nine games for Portland as a rookie, playing very sparingly, before signing with the Thunder in December. He played in 43 games, starting 32 of them, averaging 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game.
Stevens called Brown a “promising young player.”
The trade marks the first move for Stevens after he moved from head coach to director of basketball operations, and it’s certainly a significant one as the franchise tries to move forward after a disappointing 2020-21 season.