While some teams still find themselves in the hunt for a championship, most teams have begun preparation for next season. One of those teams is the Boston Celtics, who already have started making changes for the future.
After reaching the conference finals in the bubble, things have not gone well for the Celtics. Injuries plagued them for most of the season which resulted in an underwhelming finish. They ended the regular season as the seventh seed and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Brooklyn Nets.
Their first move of the offseason caught the basketball world by surprise. The long-time president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is stepping down, and head coach Brad Stevens is moving into the front office to take his place.
Stevens will not be tasked with revamping the Celtics' roster around All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. To do so, he is going to have to clear some money off the books.
The first move of the Stevens era will likely be trading Kemba Walker. Farbod Esnaashari of Bleacher Report has reported that both sides are looking to part ways.
Walker's game continues to regress as he battles with knee troubles. The 19.3 PPG he posted in 2021 is his lowest mark in a season since 2015. His 42.0% FG is the fourth-lowest in his career and lowest since that same 2015 season.
Finding a trade partner for Walker is going to be no small task. Along with his regressing numbers, his salary only continues to increase.
The All-Star guard is due 36 million dollars next season and then has a 37.6 million dollar player option for the 2022-2023 season. There is little doubt that Walker turns down that player option, making very few teams eager to try and acquire him.
Tatum and Brown continue to ascend their games to new heights. If the Celtics are going to capitalize on this window, they will need the flexibility to make changes with the roster.
We have seen in recent years that no contract in the NBA is untradeable. What the Celtics can get in return for Walker will greatly determine their ability to get back to the top of the Eastern Conference next season.
Kevin McCormick covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN and Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCNBA.