FRENCH basketball team Monaco has made a splash, signing four-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker.
But the move doesn’t come without a risk as the former Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics point guard hasn’t been able to stay healthy over the past few years.
Four-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker has signed with French basketball team MonacoCredit: Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Walker became a star after the Charlotte Hornets drafted him with the No. 9 pick in 2011, but injuries then hindered the talented scorer’s careerCredit: Getty
Walker, 33, has been dealing with huge left knee issues, which let the former No. 9 overall pick make just 48 appearances in the last two NBA seasons.
Most recently, he had a brief run with the Dallas Mavericks – whose general manager, Nico Harris, openly said the New York native’s knee was in bad shape after signing him.
“It’s not good,” Harris said.
“It’s not good at all. But he’s rehabbed it and it’s the best he’s felt in the last two years so, we’ll see how long that lasts.”
Walker played in just nine games for the Mavs before being waived.
But in his lone start for Dallas, he showed why he has made $195.5million in career earnings.
The guard went off for 32 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and a block in a 100-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 17.
Walker morphed into a multi-level scorer after starting his career with the Hornets.
In his prime, he shot nearly 40 percent for 3 in a season while being able to cut to the basket despite his 6-foot frame – and create scoring chances for others at the same time.
His career year came in 2018-19 when he logged 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in 82 games.
Walker posted those numbers just four years ago, partly explaining why Monaco general manager Oleksiy Yefimov couldn’t contain his excitement while discussing the blockbuster signing.
“It is a unique chance to acquire a player of this level and, at the same time, a personality that will suit our club very well,” Yefimov said, translated from French.
And he added: “Not only will we get a great quality player, an incredible talent, but also a great human being.
“We expect him to fit in very well on the pitch but also off it.”
Yefimov revealed Walker was already familiar with Monaco having visited the organization through Nike in 2019.
He also said that the signing represents a huge step for the team – which beat Victor Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 to the French league title just a few weeks ago – in the development of its brand.
However, the executive didn’t want to reveal whether it was easy to convince the ex-University of Connecticut standout to come to Europe.
“That you will have to ask him,” Yefimov said with a smile.
He also expressed cautious optimism when asked about Walker’s health.
“He has just had another operation, we think he will be able to overcome this,” Yefimov said.