Kemba Walker copes with trade rumors

Hornets' All-Star point guard could be headed elsewhere

Hornets guard Kemba Walker drives past Kings center Georgics Papagiannis during the second half at the Spectrum Center. The Hornets won 112-107. (Sam Sharpe / USA TODAY Sports)

In Monday’s five-point win over Sacramento, Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker scored 26 points and dished out nine assists, both game highs. He also scored seven of the team’s final 11 points as the Hornets held off the Kings at home.

Not bad for a player who, it’s safe to say, has been a little bit distracted off the court.

According to reports by ESPN and other outlets, the Hornets are considering trading the All-Star and team leader who has played his entire career in Charlotte and is having a home built in the area.

“This is where I got my opportunity,” an emotional Walker said. “I’m seven years in now. I do a lot with the community. I’ve gotten to know a lot of the fans. Of course I’m going to be tied to this place. This is where I’ve grown up. This is home.”

Hornets guard Kemba Walker shoots as he is defended by two Sacramento Kings players during Charlotte’s 112-107 win Monday at the Spectrum Center. (Sam Sharpe / USA TODAY Sports)

Walker doesn’t know what to make of the rumors, which have him being packaged in deals to New York, Detroit, Cleveland and other destinations.

“I don’t know,” he said, repeating a phrase he would use 10 times in a nine-minute interview. “I’ve seen (the rumors). This is the first time I’ve really been in this kind of situation. What can I do? I’m still here. I’ve been here.

“I’ve got no control over those kind of things. I try to keep my mind off of it.”

Coach Steve Clifford and owner Michael Jordan have both tried to tap the brakes on the public trade talks involving Walker.

“I find it hard to believe,” Clifford said. “I think it would be hard to trade him. I don’t know a thing about what (ESPN) reported. Look, I’ve been in this league 18 years. There are rumors everywhere. I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told the players: Nobody has said anything about it here. It’s a rumor.”

Clifford believes he would be consulted before any deal was consummated, and his feelings on the matter are clear. “I think the same thing as everybody else,” he said. “He’s our best player. He’s the face of the franchise. I think it would be very difficult to find a scenario where he’d get traded.”

That doesn’t mean the scenario isn’t out there, however, nor that the Hornets aren’t testing the waters.

Jordan’s vote of confidence also didn’t fully quell the talk. He told The Charlotte Observer that Walker wasn’t being shopped around the league and that, “I would not trade him for anything but an All-Star player.”

One rumored deal ESPN discussed had Cavs guard Isaiah Thomas coming to Charlotte, which would definitely meet Jordan’s criteria.

Even with the front office offering support, until the Feb. 8 deadline, Walker will remain in limbo.

“I’ve got no control over those kind of things,” he said. “I try to keep my mind off it. That’s it.”

The best way to do that, he’s found, is on the court.

“I’m a pro, man,” he said. “This is what I do. I play basketball and go hard every day, regardless of what’s going on in my life. I never bring it to the basketball court. … Basketball is what helps me cope with everything.”