Thunder general manager Sam Presti hated giving up forward/center Al Horford, but loved getting point guard Kemba Walker.
“With Al, he’s an extraordinarily high-character, positive professional,” Presti told reporters. “We feel like with Kemba, we’re getting a very similar person. Values-wise, very similar.”
The Thunder landed Walker and the No. 16 overall pick from the Celtics in a trade last week. In exchange, OKC sent Horford and young center Moses Brown to Boston.
The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported that Walker was “heartbroken” about the trade after developing a strong bond with his Celtics teammates. But Presti intends to make Walker feel welcome and enjoy his experience with the Thunder — just as Horford and Chris Paul have done in recent seasons.
“He’s been out of the country,” Presti said. “We’ve been in Chicago (at the NBA Combine) so I’m going to spend some time with him next week and sit down and get a better feel for him as a person. Everything we know about him is extremely positive.”
Walker, 31, averaged 19.3 points and 4.9 assists in 43 regular-season games. Smart, 27, averaged 13.1 points and 5.7 assists in 48 games and is widely considered one of the NBA’s best defensive guards.
He is due to make more than $36 million next season, with a player option for more than $37 million in 2022-23.
“We’re excited to have him,” Presti said. “It’s hard to find guys that score and create shots in the NBA.”
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