Hornets putting Kemba Walker on trade market

Overloaded with bad contracts and untradeable assets, the Charlotte Hornets have made All-Star point guard Kemba Walker available in trade discussions, league sources told ESPN.

Charlotte has been encouraging teams to make offers and appears eager to discuss attaching Walker to a larger trade in which another team would take on one of the Hornets' several less desirable contracts, sources said.

Walker, 27, who makes $12 million per season through 2018-19, has developed into something rare among Charlotte's cornerstone players: a talent whose production outpaces his pay stub. Walker is the Hornets' most productive and likely most popular player.

This is the first time Walker's name has come up in trade discussions, and he said Friday that he hopes to stay with the Hornets but knows there's not much say he has in the matter.

"I've been here for the last seven years, and I'm going to do what I've got to do to help my team win games," Walker told reporters. "That's all I can. I don't have control over those kind of things."

Charlotte is hopeful that the inclusion of Walker in a potential trade could help bring back a good young player or a first-round draft pick.

Ultimately the Hornets know that trading Walker in any deal would be a reset for the franchise, which would be sending away its No. 2 player all time in terms of career points and assists.

If it happens, Walker suspects the finality of leaving Charlotte will hit him hard.

"Of course. I've never been in that situation. I don't know what it feels like. ... I'd be pretty upset, but like i said, I'm here and now and I've put my heart and soul into this team and into this city, so that's what I'm going to do till everything's over," said Walker, who is building a new home in the area.

"This is where I got my opportunity. I'm seven years in now. I do a lot with community, of course. I've got to know a lot of the fans. ... Of course I'm going to be tied to this place. It's kind of where I've grown up. It's definitely home."

The Hornets had already made available Nicolas Batum (four years, $100 million), Dwight Howard (two years, $47 million), Marvin Williams (three years, $42 million) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (three years, $39 million), league sources said, but those players and their contracts are largely unattractive in the marketplace.

Walker, a 2017 Eastern Conference All-Star selection, is averaging 21.7 points on 42 percent shooting and 5.8 assists per game. He was Charlotte's first-round pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

Charlotte is 11th in the East with an 18-25 record -- four games behind the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers, who are tied for the eighth playoff spot in the conference. Steve Clifford -- who had suffered from severe headaches caused largely by sleep deprivation -- returned from a 21-game absence and coached a victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.