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Kemba Walker addresses trade rumors, playing in Charlotte, and his relationship with Steve Clifford

Walker spoke candidly with the media following practice today.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Kemba Walker spoke with the media following today’s practice, hours after a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated the Hornets were “encouraging” teams to consider Walker in trade discussions.

The Charlotte Hornets released the interview in its entirety this afternoon. The trade discussion starts around the 1:40 mark:

“I’ve seen it,” said Walker when asked if he believes that he is being included in trade discussions. “This is the first time I’ve really been in this kind of situation.”

And that’s true. Walker hasn’t ever popped up in serious trade discussions, which makes this strange for him and anyone who follows the team closely.

Walker goes on to say he would be “pretty upset” if he were to be traded, and confirmed a report that he is in the process of building a home in Charlotte.

That said, Walker acknowledged that whatever happens off the court is out of his control, and all he can focus on is trying to win games for the team.

There’s a lot to unpack from the video, but it certainly indicates that Walker wants to stay.

“This is where I got my opportunity,” he said, adding that seven years of playing for the Hornets, working with the community, and getting to know the fans is why he calls Charlotte home over his native New York.

But Walker’s answer over a potential rebuild potentially points to why his name is in trade conversations. Asked if he would be surprised if the team decided to start over, Walked smiled, sighed, and answered, “I don’t know, man, honestly, I just don’t know. I don’t know what to say.” It may come off as a non-answer, but when you consider his past comments about never wanting to go through a 7-59 like season again, it suggests that Walker wouldn’t sign on for a complete rebuild. If the Hornets front office believes a complete rebuild is the best course of action, then they know Walker will likely not agree with the decision. It means trading him now can return the most value, and hopefully shed a bad contract.

There’s plenty to debate over whether that’s the right decision or not, but based on today’s comments, it’s clear Walker isn’t ready to give up on this team yet.

Walker also spoke at length about the close relationship he has with head coach Steve Clifford.

“That’s my guy,” Walker said of Clifford, adding, “It’s gotten to be bigger than basketball with me and Cliff. We’re just close. We get along really well...I just love the way that he coaches us. The enthusiasm and the passion he has for the game, it rubs off on people. It definitely rubbed off on me. He’s turned me into a whole different player, person. He’s helped me approach the game differently on a night-to-night basis.”

This type of player-coach relationship doesn’t happen that often in the NBA. Trading Walker would obviously end that relationship as it relates to the Hornets, and makes one wonder what it could mean for Clifford past the season.

The NBA trade deadline is February 8th, meaning a resolution one way or another is coming soon enough. The Hornets will likely make some kind of move. If it Walker is included, it will signal the first of many changes for the team in the coming months.