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Roundtable: Kemba Walker signing reactions

What we think

NBA: New York Knicks at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

What’s your reaction to the Dallas Mavericks parting ways with Facu Campazzo and signing Kemba Walker?

Doyle: My knee-jerk reaction is that his signing is potentially an “upgrade” over Facundo Campazzo. That said, Walker flamed out with the New York Knicks, falling out of the rotation before being unceremoniously traded last summer. What’s more, we haven’t seen him on a basketball court since February. He stepped away from the game before the Knicks dealt him to rehab a lingering knee issue. To my knowledge, there haven’t been any reports as to how his recovery went or if it’s ongoing.

Still, the mere idea of Walker is stronger than what the Mavericks tangibly had in terms of additional ball handling. He does little to replace everything Dallas lost when it let Jalen Brunson walk over the summer and signed players that barely sniff the rotation. Yet, it’s something. And the Mavericks need something, anything that can be a potential positive. Walker provides a new vessel, hollow or not, for help and hope.

Brent: Oddly enough, a name popped into my head when I saw the Kemba news which surprised me - Brandon Knight. During the scramble to find players during the Covid crunch last year, Knight had a nice game and was featured on the local broadcast’s post-game interview. You could clearly see how much he had missed being on an NBA court. I wonder if Kemba will feel a similar mix of emotions when he gets back onto the big stage. To be simultaneously written off as washed and to only be 32 years old just two years removed from the All-Star game, Walker will have a chance to prove that his trouble with the Knicks was a chemistry issue rather than an accurate reflection of his skill level. If he plays well, it is a steal for Dallas.

The Mavericks have an alarming number of games hinging on the last possession (the miracle shots have not saved them thus far) and there have been so many long stretches of brutally stagnant offense - largely because (outside of the starting backcourt and sixth man) Dallas is not giving opposing defenses (see Durant and Kuzma comments for evidence of this) enough to worry about. Kemba Walker - when healthy and sufficiently removed from the orbit of Tom Thibodeau - showed as recently as last December that he can take over a game when he dropped 44 points on the Wizards. The very potential of much smaller eruptions gives the Mavericks a dimension off the bench that Campazzo was never going to provide. Sag off Facu? Sure. Sag off Kemba and he may begin a torrent of scoring.

Ben: Kemba Walker is a fine solution to a problem the Mavericks created themselves. They let Jalen Brunson walk for nothing, leaving a playmaking guard spot empty in the process. Instead of signing someone to fill this need in the offseason, like a regular team would, they decided to let Frank Ntilikina or Josh Green try out for the role, despite anyone who watches basketball knowing they had no chance at succeeding.

It took the Mavericks less than one week of training camp to realize this. So they signed Facu Campazzo, hoping he could give them those guard minutes they need. It took them less than 20 games to realize he could not. Now they’ve arrived at Walker. They didn’t want to sign him in the offseason, but now they do. I’m curious as to what’s changed, because their dire circumstances have not.

If Walker is healthy, he can shoot and run the offense. That’s a positive. They’ll have to find a way to protect him on defense, but it’ll be against bench squads. Walker was passed over by 30 teams this offseason, so expectations should be low, but he’s a solid third string point guard when he’s right.

Matthew: The Mavericks are putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Walker is not good enough to fix the problem, the same way a band-aid won’t fix a gunshot wound but it can’t hurt right? As long as the Mavericks realize there is still a problem to be solved.

Brian: This signing overall speaks louder than words. Kemba Walker received a stem cell injection in his left knee only two years ago, and hasn’t played in a game since February of last season. This is another player acquisition with a history of health problems that the Mavericks are content with bringing on broad knowing-the-scheme expectations from Jason Kidd. How will the coaching staff protect Kemba on the defensive end? Whose minutes will Kemba take? Most are optimistic about this signing, but I have more questions than answers on why the Mavs are bringing in Kemba Walker.

David: Kemba is an interesting acquisition to say the least. Firstly, Dallas should have gone out and got him instead of Facu Compazzo to begin with. Secondly, he is a former all-star with a recent injury history, which begs the question of how much he can still impact a game. Personally, I think if he is at even 80-90 percent health he could be a spark off the bench and give you a “vintage Kemba” game once or twice this year. If his injury persists, and there is a reason other than fit, or intangible things of that sort, that has kept him off the floor for so long then it will just be another limp attempt at solving issues the Mavericks created for themselves. I think Walker can still be an effective role player, but my belief owns a lot of stock in the hope that he can retain good health.

Ian: In a vacuum, the Kemba Walker signing is fine. They waived Facu Campazzo to make room for Walker, and I expect Walker to play more minutes than Facu did, and better minutes. Kemba provides some extra playmaking and outside shooting — both areas the Mavs desperately need help in.

The broader view, however, is that this feels like a situation the team did not need to find themselves in(signing a player nobody wanted two months into the season because they didnt address the position in the offseason), and one they could have very easily avoided. Why they didn’t is something I can’t know and won’t speculate on, but it was a mistake, and an incredibly predictable one.

Ultimately, Kemba probably won’t make a huge difference. It’s unclear how available he’ll be due to health, and while he theoretical helps in certain areas, he certainly won’t very much in others(defense, rebounding). Expectations should be moderate to low. Still, I’m much happier about his prospects on the floor than I was about Campazzo’s.

Kirk: I expect nothing, and mainly hope he can give them any minutes. His knee doesn’t seem to be in good shape so how many minutes he gives Dallas is going to be worth watching.

Logan: What Kemba Walker can hypothetically provide is a glaring hole, and therefore I can’t quibble with a thrown dart. He shoots well off the catch, necessary on this team, and he can put the ball on the floor, needed by this team. He had knee problems off-and-on for years, which compromised him–he was never a good defender, but by the time the Knicks tried to resuscitate him he wasn’t dependable offensively (though he did have some scoring outburst). You never know with former greats; remember that Carmelo was out of the league, and then became at least a bench bucket-getter when he got another shot. One assumes Kemba will be very driven.

The process by which we got here though is frankly embarrassing. Most of us fans understood ball handling as a severe weakness, and yet the franchise didn’t address it until trying to cover their tracks with Campazzo, a player whom teams didn’t even feel they needed to cover on the perimeter (that, at least, Kemba will provide). Goran Dragic and Dennis Smith Jr. were passed over, and though both have their issues, they have performed much better than Campazzo this season. Scrambling for fixes in-season rarely works, and shuffling through veterans with major question marks is something avoidable if a team makes moves and evaluates their roster with more foresight.