It has been over two months since ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Pistons and Kemba Walker were finalizing a buyout agreement, but with training camps set to tip off in less than three weeks, the veteran point guard remains under contract in Detroit.
As James L. Edwards III of The Athletic explains in his latest mailbag, the Pistons would still like to buy out Walker, and the holdup isn’t due to anything on their end. Sources tell Edwards that Walker and the Pistons found common ground on a buyout number that would reduce his $9,165,471 cap hit by “a few million,” but the 32-year-old has yet to officially agree to those terms.
While Edwards can’t confirm why the move has been delayed, he suspects that Walker doesn’t yet have a new NBA home lined up and isn’t inclined to give up a portion of his salary until he’s confident he can make most or all of that money back on a new deal.
The Pistons currently have 17 players on guaranteed contracts and presumably aren’t interested in having Walker on their 15-man roster to start the season, since that would require them to trade or release two other players instead of just one. That means their leverage is limited as they try to nudge Walker to surrender some of his salary.
If he’s not confident he’ll have a contract offer on the table from another team, Walker could simply wait out the Pistons and let them waive him before the season begins, at which point they’d owe him his full $9MM+ salary. Taking that route wouldn’t be a major financial burden for Detroit, since the team’s total salary remains below the cap.
A minimum-salary contract for Walker in 2022/23 would be worth $2,905,851, so if he does find a suitor willing to sign him, that could be the amount he gives back to the Pistons in a buyout agreement.
A four-time All-Star, Walker has seen his production dip in the last year or two as he has been slowed by knee issues. He averaged 11.6 PPG and 3.5 APG on .403/.367/.845 shooting in 37 games (25.6 MPG) last season for the Knicks, and was a liability on defense.