The Dallas Mavericks recently signed veteran and former All-Star defenseman Kemba Walker to a one-year non-guaranteed contract in the hope that he can provide at least a small extra game for a team that plays like the worst offense in history. league when Luka Doncic sits and misses Jalen Brunson.
But first, Walker, 32, needs to be healthy enough to do his part. His left knee required three surgeries: two on the meniscus and another arthroscopic procedure in 2017. By the end of his run with the Celtics, he was no longer the same player, and after a promising start with the Knicks, he turned down even more before he was cut from the rotation and sent to Detroit to cut costs. He hasn’t played in the NBA since February.
“It’s not good,” Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison said of Walker’s knee during recent radio appearance. “This is not good at all. But he got it back and it’s the best he’s felt in the last two years, so we’ll see how long it lasts.”
If you think this doesn’t sound terribly optimistic, you’re right. Harrison then said, “Well, it wasn’t very good for a few years. [But] even last year he had 30 points. But he actually feels better now. The reality is, if you look at it, it’s not good, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play it.”
This is the key. Walker is not going to approach his peak condition. He may not even play that much. But two years ago, he was averaging over 19 points per game, and last season in 37 games with the Knicks, he had 44 points and six 20-point games. Harrison and the Mavericks, who are completely bereft of playmakers after Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, are taking a small bet that Walker can conjure up some semblance of this production, at least in places, despite his knee problems.
If I was a Mavs fan, I wouldn’t hold my breath. This is a long shot. Harrison basically acknowledges this. But it’s worth a try on the little things, if only because of Walker’s presence in the locker room.