The news leaked out weeks ago that Kemba Walker would be bought out by the Detroit Pistons after the New York Knicks traded him there. So why is he still officially on their roster?
A ‘Woj bomb’ is not the same as officially pushing the paperwork through the NBA office. Pistons fans are learning that … sometimes. … there is a lag between what is being reported and what actually happens.
As part of the draft night trade with the Knicks, to aid New York’s quest to clear enough salary cap space to sign Jalen Brunson, guard Kemba Walker was sent to the Motor City.
Now, what does a young team that is not looking to contend this year need with a 32-year-old who has a history of knee problems? Nothing.
Walker is due $9.1 million this season. The rumor has it he will accept a $6.5 million buyout from the Pistons, giving them $2.6 million extra in cap space to play with.
In a later trade with the Knicks, to clear even more cap space to get Brunson, New York sent Detroit cash considerations, reportedly a figure of $6 million. Basically giving Pistons owner Tom Gores the money to buy out Walker.
It all seems like a done deal. Right?
Let the Lakers, 76ers or whichever team with no cap space and championship aspirations take a chance on Walker. Detroit has pocketed some draft picks and made room for forward Kevin Knox, who reportedly is signing as a free agent with the Pistons.
Yet, on the current Pistons roster, Walker is still listed on the team, and Knox is not.
What the heck? Did Detroit have second thoughts and decide to keep Walker? A lot of Knicks fans will tell them they should have second thoughts about getting Knox.
Woj’s tweet about the Walker buyout came on June 23, that was a while ago.
So, what the heck?
Kemba Walker is a member of the Detroit Pistons, as long as no one is playing
While a backcourt of a healthy Kemba Walker and Cade Cunningham would be fun to watch, do NOT order your Kemba teal Pistons jersey just yet.
An agreement between a player’s agent and a team is different than having it made official with the league office. Most of the information ‘Woj’ and Shams Charania get are from agents, proud to show off the deals they have made for their clients (and hoping other players are reading it and want to sign up with them).
There is almost a 100-percent probability that Detroit has agreed to a buyout with Walker, and made a a two-year deal with Knox. They just have not told the NBA office about it.
Why not just make it official? Because Pistons general manager Troy Weaver likes to play the margins.
Detroit is one of three teams in the entire NBA who are not over the cap. If teams want to swing a big deal, they most likely do not have the cap space to do it. For a juicy draft pick or young, promising player, Weaver will be more than happy to a lend a helping hand to a multi-team deal.
Donovan Mitchell? Kevin Durant? Russell Westbrook? Kyrie Irving? Who knows what player(s) could be involved, but it will probably take a third-party with cap space to get it done.
Neither Knox or Walker would have been involved in summer league, so no pressure to make their deals official quickly. Both won’t hit a basketball floor for real until training camp in mid-September, so that is the real deadline to make it legal.
Until then, Weaver has Walker’s salary to manipulate, knowing he can add $2.6 million to the Pistons salary cap space, if he needs to. Knox is locked up, so no need to add his salary until you have to. And they do not have to for a while.
So, yes Virginia, there is a Kemba Walker buyout and a free agent signing of Kevin Knox. But hush, we are just not telling the NBA office for a minute.