Mystery of why Kemba Walker still with Detroit Pistons solved?

Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets drives to the basket next to Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets drives to the basket next to Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

With three weeks before training camp starts, Kemba Walker is still a member of the Detroit Pistons, even though a buyout was reported months ago. The reason the four-time All-Star is still here, might be surprising.

One of the great mysteries of the Pistons off-season is … why is Kemba Walker still with the Pistons?
It all seemed so cut and dry. The Knicks traded Walker and his $9 million salary,  to the Pistons as part of the trade that got Detroit a pick in the draft to take Jalen Duren. It was a pure salary dump, the Knicks looking to clear space to sign Jalen Brunson as a free agent.
What did the Pistons want with Walker? Nothing. A 6-foot, 32-year-old guard with bad knees was not part of general manager Troy Weaver’s plan.
So, the obvious solution:

Detroit would buy out Walker and he could go wherever he likes. As part of their second trade with the Knicks, the Pistons received $6 million, the amount they assumed would pay for Walker’s buyout.
Sounded simple – until it wasn’t.

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The ‘Woj Bomb’ about the buyout occured on June 30, that is almost 2 and a half months ago. Yet, Walker is still on what is a swollen roster (two above the season limit) and his full salary is being applied to the Pistons salary cap.

The reason Kemba Walker is still with Detroit Pistons

Remember John Wall’s situation with the Houston Rockets last season. Although slightly different, there are some similarities to what happened to him ,and Detroit with Walker.

A rebuilding team, Houston had no interest in playing Wall, but with a massive $38 million salary, he was untradable. So, Wall just sat home and collected his paycheck.

Detroit, like Houston, has no desire to have Walker play. They have lots of young, promising guards they want to give playing time to. Their veteran guards, like Rodney McGruder and Cory Joseph, know their roles.

The difference is salary. The Pistons figured for the buyout they would simply deduct the league veteran minimum salary, what another team has to pay Walker, and they would make up the difference between that and the $9 million he is supposed to get.

It would save the Pistons a few million on the salary cap, and Walker gets his money, easy peasy.

Until it wasn’t

Why Kemba Walker might be with Detroit Pistons for a minute

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (PAID SUBSCRIPTION NEEDED) said in a recent article, he was taking an ‘educated hunch’ on the Walker situation.

Basically, if Walker has no team to go to, then there is no one to pay the $2.9 million difference between the buyout and the $9 million he is supposed to get for this season. Detroit is on the hook for the full amount if Walker stays, and he is not moving anywhere at the moment.

Related Story. The Kemba Walker era in Detroit might almost be over. light

The difference is Wall was making $36 million last year, while Walker can be signed for the vet minimum. There were rumors of Walker going back to Charlotte or Phoenix being interested but, so far, nothing.

If training camp begins and the situation remains the same, then general manager Troy Weaver and coach Dwane Casey will have a dilemma.

  • Do you bring in a four-time All-Star, just to keep him in shape.
  • Do you play him in the preseason, hoping to stir up interest?
  • Or just do the John Wall, tell Walker to stay home and we’ll mail you the check.

Next. Detroit Pistons are smart not to buy out Kemba Walker…yet. dark

Kemba Walker still being with the Detroit Pistons is not a ‘situation’ yet. But, if he is still on the roster in a few weeks, when training camp begins, then it will be an unwelcome development for both sides.