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New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker shut down for rest of season

New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker shut down for rest of season
New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (C), shown Nov. 30, 2021, was dropped from the Knicks' rotation in mid-November. File Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- The New York Knicks and Kemba Walker reached an agreement for the All-Star guard to sit out the remainder of this season, allowing him to work out in preparation for the 2022-23 campaign.

"We fully support Kemba's decision to shut it down for the remainder of the season and use this time to prepare for next season," Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose said in a statement Wednesday. "His long-term success on the court remains our priority."

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Walker inked a two-year contract with the Knicks after an August buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the partnership became riddled with issues that ultimately led the Knicks to collaborate with his agents on a plan for Walker over the team's final 23 regular-season games.

The 31-year-old Walker will be on an expiring deal this off-season, according to ESPN, and that will provide an opportunity for the Knicks and Walker's representatives to work on possible trade scenarios in the summer.

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Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau removed Walker from the Knicks' regular rotation in mid-November after he averaged just 11.7 points across the team's first 18 games. After he was sidelined for 10 games, injuries and COVID-19 problems forced Thibodeau to reinsert Walker into the lineup.

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Walker, a four-time All-Star selection, responded with 29 points in a Dec. 18 loss to the Boston Celtics. He then dropped 44 points in a loss to the Washington Wizards just days later.

The 2011 first-round draft pick moved in and out of the Knicks' lineup due to knee soreness in January. He averaged eight points in 22 minutes for the Knicks in February prior to the NBA All-Star break.

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Walker spent his first eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets. After orchestrating a sign-and-trade deal to Boston in 2019, he played two seasons with the Celtics before joining the Thunder last year.

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