Celtics trading Kemba in surprise move

Kemba Walker's time in Boston is over. The Boston Celtics announced on Friday that they are trading Walker, plus the No. 16 overall pick in the 2021 draft and a 2025 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In return, the Celtics are getting Al Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick. 

Walker, 31, came to the Celtics in 2019 via sign-and-trade deal. Prior to that, he'd spent his entire career with the Charlotte Hornets (who were the Charlotte Bobcats when they drafted him ninth overall in 2011).

“Kemba is a true professional and a great teammate and player,” Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said in a statement. “I want to thank him for his tremendous impact, and the positive contribution he’s made both to the Celtics and the City of Boston.”

Walker experiment didn't work out for Celtics

It took just two seasons for Boston's experiment with Walker to end. At the start, the Celtics were a team looking toward the NBA Finals. Walker, a four-time All-Star, was supposed to help them get there, and they got close in 2019-2020 (they lost in the Eastern Conference finals) despite Walker's injury issues. 

But things changed drastically after that. The Celtics were a mess this past season, and Walker's injuries continued to be a problem. They finished 36-36 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, with Walker missing the final two games of the series due to a bone bruise in his knee. 

Longtime director of basketball operations Danny Ainge retired in early June, signaling a change in direction, but Walker and the Celtics may have been ready to end their relationship before then. According to Bleacher Report, a rift developed between Walker and the Celtics when Ainge tried to trade him for Jrue Holiday. Both parties were ready to walk away despite the $73 million left on Walker's contract.

Horford, 35, is returning to Boston, where he played from 2016-2019. Brown, just 21, signed a standard multi-year contract with the Thunder this season after going undrafted in 2019. 

“Al played a critical role both on and off the court during his time in Boston, and we’re excited to welcome he and his family back to the Celtics,” said Stevens. “His ability to elevate teammates with his experience and leadership make for a great addition.”

“We want to also welcome Moses to Boston," Stevens added. "He is a promising young player.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 25: Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Two of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on May 25, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Kemba Walker is reportedly moving from the Celtics to the Thunder. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

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