Charlotte Hornets President of Basketball Operations & General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today the team has acquired guard Terry Rozier and a protected 2020 second-round draft pick from the Boston Celtics in exchange for guard Kemba Walker and a 2020 second-round draft pick as part of a sign-and-trade agreement between the two teams.
“I’d like to thank Kemba once again for all he did for our franchise during his eight seasons in Charlotte,” said Kupchak in team statement. “Kemba is a true competitor on the court and a class act off of it. We wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
A person with knowledge of the situation said Saturday that Walker told the Hornets of his intention to sign with the Celtics once the NBA's offseason moratorium on player movement ends on July 6. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Walker nor the Hornets publicly revealed any details.
The Charlotte Observer first reported that Walker had informed the Hornets of his decision.
Before free agency began, Walker said he was open to taking less than the supermax from Charlotte. He qualified for the supermax extension from the Hornets after making the third-team All-NBA this season, the first time Walker has made an All-NBA team in his career.
Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points and 5.9 assists for the Hornets this season while earning his third straight All-Star selection. Last season, he passed Dell Curry to become the Charlotte Hornets' all-time leading scorer and ranks in the franchise's top five in assists (No. 2), games played (No. 3), defensive rebounds (No. 4) and steals (No. 3). Aside from holding the Hornets' top scoring mark, he's also No. 1 in free throws made and attempted, field goals made and attempted and 3-pointers made and attempted.
Over the last four seasons, he has averaged more than 20 points per game and is averaging 19.8 points per game for his career since joining the league in 2011 out of UConn, where he won a national championship with the Huskies.
However, Walker hasn't experienced that same team success at the NBA level. The Hornets have made the playoffs only twice during Walker's career there and have never made it out of the first round -- a major disappointment for the highly competitive Walker.
Walker's departure will be a major blow for the Hornets, who -- barring a late sign-and-trade, which does not seem likely -- will lose their franchise player for nothing. Walker's departure comes a few weeks after backup point guard Tony Parker, the longtime San Antonio standout who played with Charlotte last season, announced his retirement from the NBA.
A four-year NBA veteran, Rozier played in 272 games (30 starts) for Boston, with career averages of 7.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 20.0 minutes per game.
“We’re excited to be able to acquire Terry in this sign-and-trade deal," Kupchak said. "He is an up-and-coming player who has shown continued improvement in his four NBA seasons, and we believe he can take that next step as a starting point guard in this league. We’re glad to have him join our team.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.