Cue up that "Coming Home" video the Knicks used to play ad nauseam when Carmelo Anthony called Madison Square Garden home.
Bronx native Kemba Walker, who played at Rice High School, was finalizing a buyout with the Thunder on Wednesday and then will join the Knicks. While Walker is no Melo-like superstar, he is a super addition to the Knicks' young roster.
Look out Knicks fans, this season has the potential to be a lot of fun, possibly even more fun than this past season’s surprise run to the playoffs.
The Knicks could roll out a starting lineup of Walker, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and either Nerlens Noel or Mitchell Robinson. That’s a huge improvement of what they had at the end of last season.
Walker, a four-time All-Star, could solve a multitude of problems that were painfully present in the Knicks' first-round playoff loss to Atlanta.
Remember how Randle disappeared in the five-game series against the Hawks, how after a huge regular season he struggled to be the primary source of his team’s offense? The lack of an elite playmaker was a big reason why.
Elfrid Payton, who started at point guard in the regular season, was benched two games into the playoffs. Though 32-year-old Derrick Rose did an incredible job stepping into the starting lineup, the Knicks can’t play him for 30 minutes every game.
Clearly, point guard was their biggest need heading into free agency, which was why it was so disconcerting for Knicks fans to hear that Chris Paul and Mike Conley were re-signing with their teams and Kyle Lowry was heading to South Beach.
Though the Knicks were able to upgrade at shooting guard by signing Fournier to replace Reggie Bullock, it looked as if they were once again going to go into a point guard by committee situation.
And then boom, news broke that Walker was planning to sign with the Knicks after the Thunder bought out his contract.
In addition to his ballhandling skills, the Knicks are getting a proven offensive threat with career averages of 19.9 points, 5.4 assists, 2.3 three-pointers made and 1.3 steals a game.
Walker was dealt to the Thunder by the Boston Celtics as part of a cap-clearing move at the end of their disappointing season. The Thunder had originally acquired Walker with the intention of flipping him, but when no trade materialized decided that it was best to cut bait with a buyout.
That meant the Knicks could add Walker at a relatively cut rate as they are said to be offering him a contract worth approximately $8 million annually. That’s a relatively low-risk move for a player who was considered one of the better at his position before coming to Boston two years ago.
Walker played his first eight seasons with the Hornets and was named to the All-Star team in each of his last three. He also made the All-Star Game in his first season in Boston, helping to lead the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals before they lost to the Heat.
Walker, however, struggled with knee issues all of the past season. The playoffs were particularly ugly as he averaged 12.7 points per game and shot only 31.7% from the floor in Boston’s first-round loss to the Nets.
So yes, there is a potential downside here in that the Knicks could have two older banged up point guards in Rose and Walker. But they do have enough young backups behind them to weather some bumps and bruises.
And then there is the hometown thing. Walker never seemed to be a great fit in Boston given that the Celtics needed to rely heavily on his scoring. With the Knicks, he will have Randle and Barrett to carry a lot of the scoring load.
And he will have a hometown crowd to support him.