Kemba Walker is better off getting cut by Detroit Pistons, but would they?

New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (8) dribbles the ball past Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (8) dribbles the ball past Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso (6) Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

While Kemba Walker is still on the Detroit Pistons roster, at this point it might be in his financial best interest to not take the reported buyout, and let Detroit release him.

The Kemba Walker situation has been rehashed enough, so we are not going into too deep a detail. The Cliffs notes version:

  1. Walker, and his $9 million contract, were part of a trade with the New York Knicks to the Detroit Pistons.
  2. It is almost immediately leaked that the 32-year-old Walker would be bought out by the Pistons and be free to sign wherever he wanted.
  3.  *Crickets*

There is now about a week before the Pistons player and coaches gather at the Ford Performance Center for training camp. If Walker is still on the roster, does he show up?

Most likely not. Walker has no desire to spend what few years he has remaining in his NBA career on a rebuilding club. And the Pistons have no desire to have Walker play for them. They took him in the trade as a salary dump by the Knicks, not out of a desire to acquire Walker.

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And Detroit could use his roster spot.

The Pistons right now have 17 players on NBA guaranteed contracts and can only have 15 by opening night against Orlando. They are even hard-pressed with the 20-man offseason roster limit. They have had to sign, and quickly release, a carousel of players so they are eligible for Exhibit 10 contracts (which means they can make more money if end up playing for the Pistons G League team).

While Detroit should be saluted for making sure to try and add more dollars into the pockets of possible Motor City Cruise players, this does put a little crimp in their training camp plans.

Kemba Walker on Detroit Pistons training camp roster has repercussions

Exhibit 10 players are automatically on the 20-man roster and can participate in Pistons training camp -but not if they have been released.

So, assuming Walker is still on the roster, and not playing, that means one hopeful will not be able to show coach Dwane Casey what he can do. Since the Cruise mirrors the plays and defensive sets of the Pistons, it also sets back a player in learning the system.

It also means Casey will have 19 players available for non-league games. Not a huge problem, but someone will be playing more minutes in games that do not matter, than if Detroit had a full roster.

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FYI, Kemba Walker makes more money if Pistons cut him

Oddly, the three-time All-Star may find himself in the same position as former Pistons player Deividas Sirvydis .

If you remember, Sirvydis played as a rookie for Detroit in 2020-21 but saw little time. He was cut in the offseason to free up a roster spot, but the Pistons still had to honor his $1.5 million guaranteed contract for the following season.

Since Sirvydis did not hook up with another team, he signed with the Motor City Cruise. When the Pistons had a bad COVID-19 outbreak in late December, Sirvydis actually played a few games with Detroit – the team that had cut him earlier in the year.

So, weirdly, Sirvydis made more money being released, as he added his salary from the Cruise, plus what he got paid to play for the Pistons again, on top of what he was owed from his old contract.

Walker, if released by Detroit, gets his full $9 million. If he eventually signs with another NBA team (one would think at some point in the season a team struggling at guard will take a chance on him), whatever money he makes, will be in addition to what the Pistons gave him.

It would have been cleaner if Walker had taken the buyout back in late June, and hopped to another team. However, at this point, he might be better off, financially, making the Pistons cut him, if they decide to do so.

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If Detroit decides to keep Walker on the roster, but not expect him to play (like John Wall with Houston last year), things could get interesting.