Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets reacts as head coach James Borrego of the Charlotte Hornets watches on during their game against the Houston Rockets at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2019. Getty Images/Streeter Lecka

When it was announced that Kemba Walker was a 2019 All-NBA third-team selection, it appeared that the Charlotte Hornets became more likely to keep their best player. A new report, however, suggests that isn’t quite the case.

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Charlotte won’t offer Walker the supermax contract that he’s now eligible to receive. By making an All-NBA team, Walker can sign a five-year, $221 million extension with the Hornets this summer, while teams with salary cap space can only make him a four-year, $141 million offer.

Smith reported on “First Take” Friday morning that Hornets’ chairman Michael Jordan is unwilling to keep Walker if it means surpassing the luxury tax threshold. The NBA is projected to have a $109 million salary cap and a $132 million tax level for the 2019-2020 season.

If Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams exercise their player options—that’s a safe assumption—the Hornets will be committed to paying about $98 million in player salaries next year before addressing Walker’s contract. The supermax would pay Walker a little over $38 million for the 2019-2020 season, putting Charlotte well into the tax.

Maybe the Hornets could get creative with trades to shed some payroll, but their roster is filled with undesirable contracts. No team is taking on the $52.6 million Nicolas Batum is owed over the next two years. Bismack Biyombo’s $17 million salary would be hard to move unless Charlotte wants to also give up an asset in a potential deal.

Walker’s greatest incentive to stay in Charlotte would be the money. The Hornets can offer him $80 million more in guaranteed money than anyone else.

If the gap between contract offers isn’t that significant, you’d have to think Charlotte’s odds of keeping Walker will decrease significantly. There’s a good chance the veteran will get a max offer from either the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks since the two teams have three available max slots between them this offseason.

The Lakers prefer to use their max contract on a superstar like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard, but they seem unlikely to land one of the top players on the market. Los Angeles has a better shot to land Kyrie Irving or Jimmy Butler, though they aren’t the favorites for either player.

The Knicks are eyeing Durant and Irving. If they miss out on Irving, Walker would make a ton of sense for New York.

The Dallas Mavericks have also been linked to Walker. They will have money to spend this offseason.

No one knows exactly what will happen this summer, but the Lakers, Knicks and Mavericks should all give Walker a better chance to win than the Hornets.

Charlotte’s payroll situation will keep them from contending for the foreseeable future unless they somehow land an All-Star in the draft. The Hornets have the No.12 overall pick on June 20.

Walker has made the playoffs twice and never advanced to the second round of the postseason. If the Hornets aren’t willing to offer him the most money possible, the All-Star’s other options will start to look much, much more appealing.