After an unceremonious first-round exit at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics pulled the trigger as they headed into the offseason, trading All-Star point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Aside from Walker, the Celtics also sent a 2021 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick and received veteran Al Horford, young big man Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick. Could the Toronto Raptors be one of the teams to try and trade for Walker?
Even though he is coming off a season where he missed several games due to injury and struggled to be consistent, Walker remains one of the league’s best guards when healthy. In his second season in Boston, the 31-year-old averaged 19.3 points, four rebounds, and 4.9 assists while shooting 42% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. However, he was limited by knee injuries and played just 43 games last season before being shipped to the Thunder.
If a team wants to pry the four-time All-Star from the Thunder, they will do so knowing that the injuries that have plagued his time with the Celtics could return. But any team who trades for the UConn product will also get a veteran guard who can create and make shots, which can be too good to pass up. With a backcourt of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., and Malachi Flynn, the Raptors don’t seem to be a team in need of Walker’s services.
But with Lowry becoming a free agent, there’s a chance that his almost decade-long stint in the North could end and the 35-year-old could play for a different team next season. Should that happen, VanVleet is expected to fill in the six-time All-Star’s shoes, but adding a player of Walker’s caliber wouldn’t hurt. This is especially true for a Raptors team that is coming off a disappointing 27-45 season that saw the franchise miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 season.
Fortunately, their 2020-2021 campaign also gave the Raptors the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft later this month, which they can use to select a young player. Toronto could select players like NBA G-League guard Jalen Green, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs, or USC big man Evan Mobley as their next franchise cornerstone. Having a veteran like Walker on their team could give a guard like Green or Suggs time to adjust to the NBA and their roles, which is important for a young player.
However, the Thunder will not part ways with their newly-acquired guard without receiving an enticing trade package, which they could get from several teams. However, a package of OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher, and a future first-round pick could be enough for Sam Presti and the OKC front office and pave the way for an intriguing backcourt of VanVleet, Walker, and Green or Suggs. Walker’s lucrative contract that he signed with the Hornets may cause some to balk at this trade, but it’s a deal that should benefit both teams, especially the Raptors. In Anunoby and Boucher, the Thunder will get two players that should fit in with the rest of their young squad plus a coveted future pick that only adds to Presti’s war chest of draft assets.
The Raptors, meanwhile, will likely be invigorated with the addition of Walker should Lowry depart, and with VanVleet, Siakam, and whoever they select with the fourth overall pick. In an Eastern Conference that continues to improve every season, Toronto will be back in the thick of the playoff race with Walker and their new draft pick. And there’s no doubt that their veteran point guard can still perform at a high level when healthy and will be highly motivated after an underwhelming two-year stint with the Celtics.