Kemba Walker is coming home.
The Bronx-bred point guard will sign with the Knicks after agreeing to a buyout, a source confirmed Wednesday, giving Tom Thibodeau an All-Star upgrade in his backcourt.
Walker had two years and $74 million remaining on his contract with the Thunder, which acquired the 31-year-old as a salary dump from the Celtics. Although Walker struggled last season with injuries, he earned four consecutive All-Star selections from 2017 to 2020 and is only two years removed from averaging 25.6 points with the Hornets.
It’s unclear how the Knicks will sign Walker — or the length of the contract — but they have about $8 million in cap space remaining from free agency. That money could help offset whatever Walker gave up in the buyout.
Following his disappointing season with the Celtics, the big question is whether Walker can regain his old form or whether the decline will only hasten. His contract was obviously unappealing in the trade market, which was why the Thunder took a first-round pick to absorb it and then bought him out, but the Knicks aren’t getting Walker on a max deal.
He can split time at point guard with Derrick Rose, another former All-Star, and that theoretically provides the duo enough rest throughout the season to maintain freshness in their aging legs. Despite his down season, Walker still averaged 19.3 points in 43 games. His efficiency took a dip, however, while 36% shooting from beyond the arc and 42% overall.
He missed the final two games of the playoffs because of a knee ailment, and then Brad Stevens, who had just taken over the Celtics’ front office, dealt Walker to the Thunder for the 16th pick and Al Horford.
Walker is probably the most famous NYC point guard of the last 15 years, a throwback to when the five boroughs produced the cream of that position like Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland, Mark Jackson, Kenny Smith, Stephon Marbury and Nate Archibald.
Walker played AAU with the Gauchos in the Bronx, and at Rice High School in Harlem. He won a NCAA title under Jim Calhoun at UConn and is now returning to New York.
Walker joins Evan Fournier, who signed a four-year, $78 million deal, as the biggest offseason additions for the Knicks.