2019 Free Agency

Reports: Kemba Walker leaves Hornets, agrees to sign with Celtics

The last time Kemba Walker was playing for a team in New England, he delivered a championship. Boston fans can only hope that repeats itself.

Per multiple reports, Walker has agreed to sign a four-year maximum contract with the Celtics. A source told the Associated Press on Sunday that it’s likely that Walker will be part of a trade that would send Terry Rozier from Boston to Charlotte on a three-year, $58 million deal. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the moves have not been finalized.

The Charlotte Observer first reported that Walker had informed the Hornets of his decision.

Walker, who led UConn to an NCAA title eight years ago, could have earned up to a so-called supermax total of $221 million over five years. He triggered the potential offer after being recognized with All-NBA Third Team honors at the end of the season, following his third All-Star appearance and a career-best average of 25.6 points per game (43.4 FG%; 35.6 3P%), along with 4.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 34.9 minutes.

Earlier this month, Walker said he would be willing to take less than the supermax figure to help Charlotte build a roster and said his “first priority” in free agency would be the Hornets. But amid reports that said the Hornets’ offer didn’t even reach $170 million, Walker clearly turned his attention elsewhere — as he said he would.

“I’m not saying that I’ll sign back with them. … If it doesn’t work out, I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else,” Walker said earlier this month.

Boston turned out to be that somewhere else.

It’s a natural fit on multiple levels. The Celtics have been bracing to lose All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and now have a three-time All-Star in Walker to slide into the starting spot. And Walker played his college basketball in Storrs, Connecticut, less than 90 miles from Boston and is still revered after leading the Huskies to the 2011 NCAA title. UConn beat Butler — coached by now-Celtics coach Brad Stevens — in that championship game.

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.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.