Kemba Walker qualified for the $221 million supermax contract but he was prepared to accept a contract around the normal max of $190 million from the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets' best offer was just under $160 million over five years, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.
“Tough days, (expletive) tough days, I can’t even lie,” Walker told The Athletic. “Excuse my language. It was difficult. I couldn’t see myself just being on another team. It was just hard. That’s all I’ve known was Charlotte. Definitely some tough times. I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to get the offer that I wanted, and maybe not close to it, because of cap space.
“I had to get my head wrapped around the feeling and picking another team.”
Walker instead signed with the Boston Celtics on a four-year, $141 million deal.
Walker said he did not have a final conversation with Michael Jordan, but understood the organization’s viewpoint.
“It’s not disappointing because I understand the business side of things,” Walker said. “I’m not mad at MJ or the organization for anything. I understand it. You have to look at both sides at the end of the day. Could MJ have went over the luxury tax? Yeah, he could have. But why?
“At the end of the day, you have to see both sides of it. That’s what helped me wrap my head around not being around Charlotte anymore. I loved Charlotte. I had to shift my mindset more as free agency got close. I had some priorities and places I wanted to go and didn’t want to go if I didn’t stay in Charlotte, and that’s when Boston even came on the scene.
“It got real, like, ‘Damn, I can really be a Celtic.’”