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Determined Kemba Walker proving his value to the Charlotte Hornets

With just five days to go until the trade deadline and two weeks after a report surfaced that Kemba Walker was available, Walker is still on the Charlotte Hornets … and still showing why it would take a lot to acquire him.

The Hornets have been almost 20 points per 100 possessions better with Walker on the floor (plus-5.8) than they’ve been with him off the floor (minus-13.7) this season. With Walker in the game, they have the point differential of a team that’s 37-14. With Walker on the bench, they have the point differential of a team that’s 5-46.

The Hornets remain five games in the loss column out of a playoff spot, but after Walker led the Hornets to a 133-126 win over the Indiana Pacers, playing the entire second half (Walker seems to be aware of his on-off differential) and scoring 41 points, the Charlotte Observer‘s Rick Bonnell penned a column about the value of Walker in the Queen City:

Walker played all 24 minutes of the second half. Every timeout, Hornets coach Steve Clifford inquired whether Walker needed a rest. Either verbally or with the expression on his face, Walker replied, “I ain’t coming out!” Clifford recalled.

I don’t begrudge the Hornets front office for gauging Walker’s trade value. I understand the dangerous place this franchise is in: An aging team with one of the NBA’s highest payrolls that is still seven games below .500 and probably not going to reach the playoffs.

But you can’t trade Walker for anything short of a no-brainer deal that brings in another All-Star quality player and still fixes the salary-cap mess that exists now and next season, too. And I don’t see such a miracle deal presenting itself before the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Twice in the past two weeks opposing coaches have volunteered before a game against the Hornets that Walker might be as competitive as any player in the NBA. The Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer said that in Atlanta Wednesday. New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, who grew up in Shelby and played for Appalachian State, was more emphatic in description of how Walker is wired.

Gentry went so far as to compare Walker to future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in his will to win at anything. I mentioned Gentry’s comment to Walker Friday morning at shootaround. You should have see the grin that induced. Walker said to be compared to Bryant in any fashion is a special distinction.