Kemba Walker joins John Wall as notable players with non-playing agreements with their teams this season, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not a fan of these types of arrangements. Plus, what is Zion Williamson’s deal? Former teammate J.J. Reddick has an idea, and he didn’t hold back. That and more in the latest installment of Around the Association!
Kemba Walker’s Days in NY are Numbered
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, both the Knicks and veteran point guard Kemba Walker have agreed that Walker will sit out the rest of the season. He’ll reportedly be allowed to work out and prepare for the 2022-23 campaign, one that will almost certainly be played with another team.
Walker has been in and out of Tom Thibodeau’s lineup for months after falling out of favor in November despite Derrick Rose being sidelined for the last two months while he recovers from ankle surgery.
Here’s what the Knicks had to say about the mutual agreement between the two sides: “We fully support Kemba’s decision to shut it down for the remainder of the season and use this time to prepare for next season. His long-term success on the court remains our priority.”
ESPN Sources: The New York Knicks and guard Kemba Walker have agreed that the four-time All-Star will be sidelined for the remainder of the team’s season. Story: https://t.co/P98Qf8uJB6
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 23, 2022
In August, Walker signed a two-year, $17.8 million deal with the Knicks after the Oklahoma City Thunder granted him a buyout. The veteran point guard has bounced around the past few years after spending his first eight seasons with Charlotte.
With Walker on an expiring contract this summer, his agents Jeff Schwartz and Javon Phillips of Excel Sports are expected to work with the Knicks to find a trade that works for everyone involved. With Walker now excused from New York’s final 23 games of the season, it seems destined that he has played his last game with the Knicks. Walker will be 32-years-old at the start of the 2022-23 season and will likely be sliding into a reserve role wherever he lands.
Cavs Dealing with Post All-Star Break Injuries
The Cavaliers will be dealing with a pair of injuries to key players in their backcourt, as they prepare for the stretch run. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Darius Garland has been dealing with a nagging back injury that he and the Cavs will have to manage for the rest of the season.
“Sources tell cleveland.com Garland’s finicky injury is one that will need to be managed throughout the remainder of the season,” Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com wrote. “Non-contact events like All-Star Weekend, pregame workouts, or shootarounds aren’t an issue. As Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about two weeks ago, the pain can hit when going through screens on defense or even taking contact on drives to the basket.”
Garland put on quite the show as one of the host city representatives during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend last week, but now as the Cavs gear up for a playoff push, the management of his back issues shift into focus for Cleveland. While it seems that Garland is looking to play on, there’s a chance that the Cavs might have to shut Garland down for a couple of weeks to get him right for the postseason: “In most cases, given the nature of the injury, sources say Garland would need to sit for at least two weeks, allowing his back the proper rest, recovery time, and treatment,” Fedor wrote. “But Garland doesn’t want to miss that much game action during a playoff push. The Cavs can’t afford that either. Both sides believe he can play through it, and the plan is to continue to work with Garland and monitor how he is feeling, trying to find opportunities to take a rest night or two. The goal is to get him to the playoffs — if Cleveland makes it there — in the best physical shape possible.”
Cleveland is also monitoring a sprained left foot for newly acquired guard Caris LeVert suffered when he accidentally stepped on a teammate’s foot during practice. According to Tom Withers, who covers the Cavs for the AP, LeVert will miss a week or two with his sprained foot.
#Cavs will likely be without Caris LeVert for a week or two with his sprained foot.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 24, 2022
Adam Silver Calls Non-Playing Agreements a “Problem”
John Wall is the most prominent example, but we just touched on the most recent non-playing agreement between Kemba Walker and the New York Knicks today. Al Horford was sent home by the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, so that the team could more effectively tank, and the list goes on and on these days. But NBA commissioner Adam Silver is anything but a fan of the non-playing agreements between players and teams, for any reason.
Silver had this to say about the arrangements that have become common throughout the league:
“Of course, I think it’s a problem when players are paid not to play. In some cases, that’s by mutual agreement with the team. Maybe the team is in a rebuilding situation that is focused on certain players. There’s a sense that (a) veteran player isn’t fitting in for whatever reason to the culture they’re trying to create.”
But, Silver doesn’t see a way that he or his office can get involved in these matters, especially if the agreement is a mutual one, like the one that we’ve seen in Houston with John Wall and the Rockets this season.
“It’s a hard line here because if it is truly by mutual agreement, I’m not sure the league office should be interfering. On the other hand, you have an aggregate hard cap, in essence, where 50 percent in our system is paid to the players. For every dollar that goes to a player that is not producing on the floor, that’s a dollar less that goes to a player that is performing. That shouldn’t be ideal for players or teams.”
Adam Silver discusses NBA's 'problem' of non-playing agreements between teams and playershttps://t.co/mOO9ZxFbEz
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 20, 2022
J.J. Reddick Slams Zion for Being “Detached”
J.J. Reddick had some strong words regarding Zion Williamson and his failure to reach out to new teammate CJ McCollum after the Pelicans acquired him from Portland at the NBA trade deadline. The former Pelican and 15-year NBA veteran Reddick, who was a teammate of Zion’s, says that this is not new behavior for the former No. 1 overall pick out of Duke; instead, this is a long-standing pattern of being a “detached” teammate.
“This is a pattern of behavior with Zion that we are seeing again and again,” Redick said. “I was his teammate. I can describe him as a detached teammate. That is an accurate statement. This is the basic level of humanity being a teammate. Send a text to a guy when he gets traded to your team. That is just normal behavior. That’s the bare minimum that you have to do. And the Pelicans yesterday sent out an email for season tickets for next year, and guess who’s name was not in the email? Zion’s. What the heck is going on in New Orleans?”
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 22, 2022
Williamson has not played a single game for the Pelicans this season and has suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery from ankle surgery. Recently it was reported that a second surgery is not off the table, a move that would see Williamson miss the rest of the season.
At this point, it seems abundantly clear that Zion has zero interest in being in New Orleans.
And Ones …
• Chris Paul will miss some significant time with a fractured thumb, and that’s a big blow to the Suns’ chances at staying atop the Western Conference through the stretch run the next month and a half.
Chris Paul injury update: Suns star has fractured thumb, could miss remainder of regular season, per reporthttps://t.co/HfxiIJYaQA
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 21, 2022
• Luka’s Revenge?
Mark Cuban attributes Luka Doncic's recent surge to All-Star starter snub, comments about weight gainhttps://t.co/AffUcOSvhF
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 22, 2022
• Hoping for a happy and safe resolution to this story out of New York:
ICYMI: Mitchell Robinson says his father, Mitchell Robinson Jr., is missing — and he's summoning the public's help https://t.co/HxMfqvwxu1
— TMZ (@TMZ) February 24, 2022
• NBA standings coming out of the break:
— NBA (@NBA) February 24, 2022
• Here’s what the playoff picture looks like as the NBA season gets back in action tonight: