Jim Calhoun: Kemba Walker would make Celtics' young players better


Boston sports fans are excited about the possibility of Charlotte Hornets star and soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Kemba Walker signing with the Celtics, and his former UConn coach, Jim Calhoun, believes the veteran point guard would be a good fit on the C's. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday the Celtics have "emerged as the frontrunner" to sign Walker. Players can begin agreeing to free-agent contracts Sunday night at 6 p.m. ET, and deals can become official July 6.

Walker spent three seasons at UConn, where Calhoun recruited and coached him. One attribute of Walker's game that Calhoun thinks would really help the Celtics if he signed with Boston is his ability to elevate the performance of his teammates.

"I think the big thing is that he makes Tatum, he makes Brown, he helps Gordon Hayward come back. He makes a lot of terrific players be exceptional players," Calhoun told NBC Sports Boston on Thursday. "There are very few guys you're going to get in basketball -- not only are they really good, but they make others better both psychologically, winning-wise -- he can really pass the ball. ... He's a special talent who can make other players better."

Another special quality Walker would bring to Boston is his leadership, something Calhoun viewed firsthand at UConn.

"He brings special things to his teammates," Calhoun said. "Trust me, I was always amazed how much his teammates loved him and followed him."

Calhoun also added: "He's a leader of your team, and he wants to be a leader. Kyrie (Irving) is a great talent, I recruited him. But not everyone wants to be that kind of vocal leader. That's who Kemba wants to be, and quite frankly, naturally he is."

The Celtics can offer Walker a four-year max contract worth $141 million. The Hornets are able to offer the 29-year-old guard a five-year supermax extension worth $221 million, but ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported Thursday that Charlotte has offered Walker a five-year deal "somewhere in the ballpark of $160-plus million." 

Walker averaged a career-high 25.8 points per game for the Hornets last season and was named to the All-NBA third team.

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