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Kemba talks free agency, calls Charlotte his ‘first priority’

Kemba Walker sat down with The Athletic’s Jared Weiss while in Tokyo to discuss his upcoming free agency.

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NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker has been very noncommittal when discussing his impending free agency. He’s dropped hints that he wants to play in Charlotte, but he’s also been adamant that he wants to win and that the team needs to prove they can put together a competent team around him if he’s going to stay. There have been rumblings that he’s more likely to go than stay.

Walker has been in Japan meeting and greeting fans for the last several days. While there, he sat down with Jared Weiss of The Athletic to discuss the biggest offseason of his career. In that conversation, Walker sounded more committed to the Charlotte Hornets than he had in recent months.

Oh no question, Charlotte’s definitely my first priority. That’s where I’ve been for eight years and that’s all I know. Not many people get a chance to play for one NBA team throughout their career. When I go on my Instagram, I see, ‘Kemba leave! Kemba get out of Charlotte!’ People don’t understand, when they say you need to go ‘here’ and win, that winning is not guaranteed anywhere.

Charlotte is my home, man. I’ve been there for eight years and it’s been the most amazing eight years of my life. My family, they love it. The fans love me. The organization has been great and gave me my opportunity.

I had no idea where I was going on draft night. I was hearing so many different rumors about different teams I was going to get drafted to, but Charlotte traded up and took a chance on me. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to become the player I am today, so I have to have that love for Charlotte and that is definitely the team I want to be with, for sure.

Walker also talked about being named to an All NBA team for the first time in his career, which made him cry. He talked about some conversations he had with Tony Parker heading into this past season.

There’s still more than a month before players can sign with new teams so there’s plenty of time for Walker’s mind to change, but it’s encouraging that he’s publicly expressing his desire to return to Charlotte. He said that once he’s home from Tokyo, he’ll sit down with his family and discuss his options. He’s said that the fifth year that the Hornets can offer him is important at his age.

The Hornets need Kemba Walker. Hopefully Walker’s desire to stay in Charlotte doesn’t waver in the coming weeks so Mitch Kupchak and company can lock him up before he even hits the open market. Then the Hornets can look to improve the team knowing its heart and soul will be here for the foreseeable future.

Update: Cody Zeller is doing his part to make sure Kemba stays in Charlotte. We see you working out there Cody.