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The Kemba Dilemma

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Though Charlotte may be in North Carolina, far from your apartment, we here in Columbia, SC love the Hornets. Many of us grew up rooting for the original franchise before they moved to New Orleans, so having professional basketball locally is a huge deal. That’s why the Peachtree Place Blog is addressing the toughest question for the Charlotte Hornets this offseason: what should Charlotte do about Kemba Walker?

Back in 2015, the Hornets signed Kemba to a 4 year $48 million contract. It was a savvy business move by the Hornets, locking a phenomenal player with a ton of potential into a fairly reasonable contract. However, since then Kemba has seen his star grow. He has been on the All-Star team in each of the last three years and has improved his game every single year. He is the Hornets best player and their only hope of being competitive in the near future. So it seems like a given that they should sign him to another contract, right? Well, it’s not that simple.

Since Kemba has drastically improved as a player, his value has skyrocketed. Additionally, the NBA salary cap has almost doubled since the time he signed his first NBA contract, meaning that teams are able to give their players even more money than before. Under the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, this offseason Kemba Walker is eligible for a 5 year $190 million contract, with a salary that starts around $35 million in the first year and increases from there.

The issue with signing Walker to a new deal lies almost completely in the money. Kemba turns 29 next month, and small guards like him do not have a history of aging well in their 30s. If they sign him to a max deal, Kemba will be making almost $50 million when he’s 34, eating up almost all of the Hornets’ salary cap space and leaving them little money to offer the rest of their players. If Kemba Walker is still as good as he is now when he’s 34, then the deal is completely worth it. However, history suggests that he won’t be.

So there’s the dilemma. Do you sign Kemba Walker to a max extension and risk being locked into a bad contract as he ages? Or do you let one of the elite players in the NBA leave your team for nothing? It’s a tough decision. What would you like to see the Hornets do? Leave your comments below and let us know what you think!