NBA

Boston Celtics trade Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City Thunder in return for Al Horford

The Boston Celtics have traded Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The team announced that they have sent Walker, the No. 16 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and a second-round pick in the 2025 NBA Draft to the Thunder for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the trade.

The Celtics have already undergone a lot of change since their season came to an end, with Danny Ainge stepping down as the team's President of Basketball Operations. Brad Stevens, who had been the head coach of the Celtics since the 2013-14 season, has taken over Ainge's position.

The Celtics signed Walker to a four-year, $140.8 million contract in 2019. He earned the fourth All-Star selection of his career in 2019-20 but played in 43 of a possible 72 games during the 2020-21 regular season due to injuries. Walker then struggled in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, posting 12.7 points on 31.7 percent shooting from the field in three games.

As Wojnarowski notes, the Thunder "can work with Walker on what's next for him," much like they did with Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Horford.

In acquiring Horford, the Celtics address a need at center and get a player who is familiar with the franchise. Horford appeared in 208 games with the Celtics between 2016-17 and 2018-19, averaging 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The Celtics also get a prospect in Brown, who flashed his potential on the Thunder this season. In 43 games, 32 of which he started in, the 21-year-old averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds.

NBA.com Staff reactions

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Time will tell what Kemba brings to Oklahoma City, but this trade is all about the draft picks for the Thunder, who now have three first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. Taking on the rest of Kemba's salary shouldn't hurt them too much moving forward either, because everyone else on the Thunder is still on their rookie deals. Even with Kemba's $36.0 million on their books, the Thunder still only have around $65.0 million committed to their roster for 2021-22.

Also, don't be surprised if the Thunder are able to get a first-round pick for Kemba before his contract expires in 2022-23. Taking on other team's "bad contracts" and flipping them for picks is turning out to be Sam Presti's thing. We saw it with Chris Paul and now Horford.

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): I'm shocked. While this move makes plenty of sense for both sides, I didn't expect it to happen this fast, especially with Brad Stevens just taking over the President of Basketball Operations role for the Celtics.

Scott already alluded to what this means in terms of contracts and salary for OKC, but for Boston, it means more financial flexibility since Horford is making less money than Walker over the final two years of his contract.

The Thunder add another draft pick to their seemingly bottomless well of assets, giving them a third first-rounder in the 2021 NBA Draft to move up or around and continue building for the future. The Celtics bring back a veteran big man who played some of the best basketball of his career in Boston, while also adding a promising young centre in Brown, who happened to have his best game of the season against the Celtics, coming up with a 21-point, 23-rebound double-double.

Both front offices likely feel good about getting this one done.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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