New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker has come to an agreement with the team to sit out the remainder of the season. The veteran guard will now focus on preparing his body, specifically his ailing knee, for the 2022-23 season. Team president Leon Rose released a statement Wednesday, saying Walker made the decision.
"We fully support Kemba's decision to shut it down for the remainder of the season and to use this time to prepare for next season," Rose wrote. "His long-term success on the court remains our priority."
The Knicks surprised everyone last season by earning the No. 4 overall seed in the Eastern Conference. But after they crashed out of the playoffs in the first round, in large part because they couldn't score, they decided to make a number of offensive-minded moves. Walker was one of them, singing a two-year, $18 million deal.
Things have not worked out for either party. The Knicks are stuck in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at 25-34, and will need a post-All-Star break surge to even make the play-in tournament. Walker, meanwhile, has been in and out of the lineup due to injury and coaching decisions. In late November and early December, he was benched for 10 games, and later in January missed nine straight due to his knee soreness. Walker has been dealing with knee problems for years, and widespread concerns around the league about his ability to stay on the court long-term were why he had to settle for a low-money deal from the Knicks.
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When Walker was able to get on the court this season, he averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists, while shooting 40.3 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from 3-point land. There were flashes of his old brilliance -- his 44-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist performance against the Wizards just before Christmas stands out -- but they were few and far between. He had as many games with sub-five points (6) as he did with 20-plus points (6).
With one year and about $9 million in guaranteed money left on his contract, Walker should be tradeable, and his agent is expected to explore other opportunities, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Perhaps in a different situation or role, Walker could still be an effective player, but sadly it appears his days of being a difference-maker are over.