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Kemba Walker says he’s open to taking less than supermax from Hornets

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Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker has less than two weeks to go until he officially enters unrestricted free agency.

At his basketball camp in Charlotte today, the Hornets star said he’d be open to taking less than the supermax this summer. He told reporters at the camp, which was held at Ardrey Kell High School in south Charlotte, that his willingness to do so was to help the Hornets build a better team around him going forward.

“Yeah, why not? Yeah I would be. I would take less, yeah,” Walker said when asked if he’d take less than the supermax to help the Hornets build around him.

When asked by The Athletic’s Rod Boone if he wanted to remain in Charlotte, Walker said: “I don’t know how many times I can say that. I’m not going to lie. I don’t know how many times I can say it. But if it doesn’t work out I’m definitely prepared to play somewhere else. But yes, I would love to be in Charlotte.”

In an interview with Jared Weiss of The Athletic earlier this month, Walker had said re-signing with the Hornets is his “first priority.” On Thursday, he reiterated that point but said that doesn’t make it automatic he will stay in Charlotte. Walker told reporters he plans to meet with other NBA teams before making his decision and that he plans to lean on his agent, Jeff Schwartz, throughout the process.

Walker qualified for the supermax extension from the Hornets after making the third-team All-NBA this season, which could pay him more than $220 million over five years. He averaged a career-high 25.6 points and 5.9 assists for the Hornets this season while earning his third straight All-Star selection.

Veteran forward Marvin Williams reportedly exercised his option for next season, in which he will earn $15 million. Swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has a $13 million player option for next season, but he has not made his decision yet (and has until June 22 to do so). The Hornets are also already on the books for Nicolas Batum ($25.56 million), Bismack Biyombo ($17 million) and Cody Zeller ($14.47 million) next season — although Biyombo and Williams are both in the final years of their respective deals.

The Hornets don’t have the money to sign a difference-maker in free agency, which will likely leave GM Mitch Kupchak to acquire talent through a trades. Walker had said in the past he wants to continue playing for the Hornets and “create something special here” because he loves living in Charlotte. But the 6-foot-1 point guard appeared to slightly back off those statements as the 2018-19 season ended, saying repeatedly “I want to win.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.



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Reports: Wizards promote Tommy Sheppard to full-time general manager

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The Washington Wizards have hired Tommy Sheppard as the team’s full-time general manager, per multiple reports. 

Sheppard, the team’s senior vice president of basketball operations for most of last season, served as general manager on an interim basis after the Wizards fired longtime executive Ernie Grunfeld back in April.

Candace Buckner of The Washington Post was the first to report the news.

NBA.com will have more on this shortly.

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Kings hire WNBA’s Lindsey Harding as assistant coach

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings have hired former WNBA player Lindsey Harding as an assistant and player development coach on Luke Walton’s staff.

The team also hired Stacey Augmon and Rico Hines on Friday.

Harding played nine years in the WNBA before working as a pro personnel scout and then player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers. She becomes the latest woman to serve as a coach in the NBA, joining others like Boston’s Kara Lawson, San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Dallas’ Jenny Boucek and Cleveland’s Lindsay Gottlieb.

The Kings have a history of hiring female coaches, notably Nancy Lieberman and Boucek.

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James Harden decides to pass on FIBA World Cup to focus on Rockets

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All-Star James Harden wants to focus on the Rockets late this summer and fall, specifically on adapting to playing with new teammates such as Russell Westbrook.

According to a report by Jonathan Feigen in The Houston Chronicle on Friday, Harden has informed Team USA coach Gregg Popovich that he is withdrawing from the team that will represent the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup in China.

Speaking at an event on Friday to donate shoes and other sporting goods to children from the Greater Houston Police Activities League, Harden said he wanted to spend the remainder of the offseason to focus on preparing for the retooled Rockets.

Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon are both scheduled to participate in practices in Las Vegas Aug. 5 to 9. Harden has previously played for the 2012 USA Basketball Olympic team and 2014 World Cup team.

Harden joins Anthony Davis as the second top player to withdraw from Team USA in the past week.

Team USA still has All-Star guards Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal among those who remain committed.

The FIBA World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China, and doesn’t leave much lead time for players to start NBA training camps.

 

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