Pistons buying out veteran PG Walker

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The Detroit Pistons and Kemba Walker are finalising a contract buyout that will allow the four-time All-Star to enter free agency, ESPN reported on Thursday.

The move was expected after the rebuilding Pistons acquired Walker from the New York Knicks last week as part of a three-team trade that also netted Detroit rookie big man Jalen Duran, the 13th overall pick of this year’s draft.

Walker was due to earn nearly $9.2million in the final season of a two-year, $18m contract the New York City native signed with the Knicks last summer.

It is the second straight year Walker has had his contract bought out after being traded. The 32-year-old point guard was dealt from Boston to Oklahoma City in June 2021, with Walker later agreeing to relinquish $20m of the nearly $74m he was owed on his former deal to become a free agent.

Walker played in only 37 games during his lone season with the Knicks and averaged a career-low 11.4 points per game while shooting just 40.3 per cent from the field.

He fell out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in November and did not play at all after the All-Star break due to chronic knee problems that had hampered him in previous years as well.

The former University of Connecticut standout has not appeared in more than 56 games in any of the past three seasons, though he was an All-Star as recently as 2019-20 when he averaged 20.4 points and 4.8 assists per game in his first of two seasons with the Celtics.

New York and Detroit have been active trade partners this offseason, with the Knicks also sending veterans Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Pistons in a separate deal.

The move cleared nearly $20m of cap space for the Knicks, who are expected to make a strong push for Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson in free agency.

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