Charlotte has been encouraging teams to make offers and appears eager to discuss attaching Walker to a larger trade in which another team would take on one of the Hornets’ several far-less-desirable contracts, sources said.
Walker, 27, who makes $12 million per season through 2018-19, has developed into something rare among Charlotte’s cornerstone players: a talent whose production outperforms his pay stub. Walker is the Hornets’ best, most popular and culture-driving player.
Charlotte is hopeful that the inclusion of Walker in a potential trade could help bring back a good, young player or a first-round draft pick.
Ultimately, the Hornets know that trading Walker in any deal would be a reset for the franchise, which would be sending away its No. 2 player all time in terms of career points and assists.
The Hornets had already made available Nicolas Batum (four years, $100 million), Dwight Howard (two years, $47 million), Marvin Williams (three years, $42 million) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (three years, $39 million), league sources said, but those players and their contracts are largely unattractive in the marketplace.
Walker, a 2017 Eastern Conference All-Star selection, is averaging 21.7 points on 42 percent shooting and 5.8 assists per game. He was Charlotte’s first-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Charlotte is 11th in the East with an 18-25 record — four games behind the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, who are tied for the eighth playoff spot in the conference. Steve Clifford — who had suffered from severe headaches caused largely by sleep deprivation — returned from a 21-game absence and coached a victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.