Regardless of the Charlotte Hornets' struggle to assemble a contending roster, Kemba Walker emphasized that a return remains his top priority, although he intends to meet with other teams once the free agency period opens this summer, according to The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell.
Perhaps more surprising was Walker's revelation that he could be persuaded to leave money on the table.
"Yeah, I would take less (than the super-max contract)," Walker said at youth basketball camp Thursday, according to WCNC's Nick Carboni. "Sure why not? I would take less."
In the wake of his finest professional season to date, Walker became eligible for the massive extension by virtue of being selected to the All-NBA third team. Due to CBA rules, the Hornets could gild the 29-year-old with as much as $221.3 million over a five-year deal - significantly more than the four-year, $140.6-million contract another team could offer him, according to salary projections by Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro.
By paying Walker less money, Charlotte would, in theory, improve its ability to shape a competitive roster around the three-time All-Star's prodigious talents. Despite Walker averaging a career-best 25.6 points with 5.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 2018-19, the Hornets posted their third consecutive losing season, finishing two games out of the playoffs at 39-43.