The Dallas Mavericks signed four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker, possibly hoping to help address a need to fill a supporting cast around Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks waived point guard Facundo Campazzo to create an open roster spot for Walker.
The team officially announced Kemba Walker’s signing on Tuesday. Head coach Jason Kidd said the team would try to put him in a position to succeed.
“The train doesn’t stop,” Kidd said. “We’ll get him caught up to speed. He’s a vet. He’s been in this league, and we’ll hopefully put him in a position where he can be successful.”
Slowed by knee issues, the 32-year-old Walker has been a free agent since the Detroit Pistons waived him in mid-October. Walker averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 assists in 37 games last season for the New York Knicks.
“I’m just making sure I’m right, making sure I’m ready, making sure I’m ready for whenever somebody gives me that call,” Walker said during an appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s The Woj Pod earlier this month.
“I just know that I have the ability to help someone, to help a team,” Walker said then. “I know I can still play basketball at a high level.”
This is not the first time the Mavs have pursued Walker, having attempted to sign him to a maximum contract in 2019. Walker, however, has suggested that he was unaware of Maverick’s offer in 2019, and ultimately opted for a similar offer from the Boston Celtics.
In Boston, Walker averaged 22.8 points and 5.6 assists but struggled against injuries before being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for center Al Horford and a first-round pick.
Doncic is the leading scorer in the NBA with 33.1 points per game, but teams are keying in on him, double-teaming and trapping him to force the ball out of his hands. The Mavs have struggled to score when Doncic is out of the game and are 0–6 when he did not score at least 30 points.
Walker said he could alleviate the pressure on Doncic but did not really need to.
“I think just adding another guy who can create for others and myself,” Walker said. “I think I can help in that aspect. Just help take a little pressure off.”
He added, “Luka [Doncic] really doesn’t need any pressure taken off him. The kid is special.”
The move is a gamble on an oft-injured but proven NBA scorer and an attempt to fill the void left by Jalen Brunson’s departure. Mark Cuban said the move was made to add more options on offense, but detractors said the Maverick’s scoring issues require an overhaul.
“We wanted to add some flexibility to our offense. Like last year at this point, we have great shot quality, particularly from the three, but we have struggled to make enough of them,” Cuban said. Kemba will give J-Kidd more offensive flexibility.”
Former NBA player turned commentator Matt Barnes said of the signing, “I don’t know if Kemba is that guy anymore. I think if he was still being able to score like we know Kemba to score, he wouldn’t be claimed ‘off waivers’ at this point.”
“I think he would be in camp,” Barnes said.
Barnes added that it is difficult to bring in or retain a star-caliber player to fit next to Doncic because he is so ball-dominant.
Kemba Walker has been training in Florida, in preparation for getting signed by an NBA team, according to ESPN.
The Mavericks’ next game is against the New York Knicks on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CST.