The Celtics will enter the restart of the 2019-20 season with some question marks, but none bigger than the one that had been looming over the team the last time they were on the court—the condition of Kemba Walker’s knee.
The Celtics have already indicated that Walker would not play in the team’s first scrimmage, on Friday against Oklahoma City and coach Brad Stevens confirmed as much on Thursday. But there may be good news—Walker says he is trending in the right direction and that, “The knee feels good. I’m trending upwards.”
#NEBHInjuryReport Kemba says his knee is reacting well while he's ramping up his workload: "I felt really good (today), actually. It was really fun to get out there with my teammates. The knee feels good. I’m trending upwards.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) July 23, 2020
Walker is averaging 21.2 points and 4.9 assists on the season, so his presence is obviously needed. The Celtics are hopeful of making a deep run into the playoffs in the Orlando reboot and their depth could be essential—especially with forward Gordon Hayward expected to miss time in September when his wife gives birth.
Celtics Publicly Optimistic on Walker’s Health
Stevens was upbeat when it comes to Walker’s knee earlier this week. He said Walker went through live practice on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Stevens told reporters, “He’s been going every day to some level in the last five days. Initially, we thought it would be more every other day. He’s felt great, he’s been able to add strength and those were the two things we needed to prioritize.”
Walker added earlier this week in an interview with reporters that he would not only be back on the floor for the team, but would be, “better than ever.”
Plenty of Cause for Skepticism on Kemba Walker’s Knee, Though
Celtics fans have reason to be skeptical about the team’s presentation of Walker’s injury, though. Remember back on January 31, when Walker’s knee problem was first flaring up and he appeared on the team’s injury report, the Celtics universally downplayed the severity of the problem.
“It’s a short-term thing,” Stevens said at the time, and Walker was expected to miss two games.
He would up missing three games, then played terribly in the four games after returning, struggling to attack the rim and shooting 32.8% from the floor.
Walker, bizarrely, played more than 29 minutes in the All-Star game, the third-most minutes of any participant. The problem worsened and Walker missed six of his next seven games. He played three games just before the shutdown and averaged 12.7 points on 27.9% shooting and 20.8% 3-point shooting.
After the All-Star game, it was revealed that Walker had an injection to help with swelling and soreness in the knee.
At the time, Stevens said that the team was surprised but the post-All-Star swelling.
“That was an indicator we needed to check it, ” said Stevens at the time, who also said at the time that the knee was structurally sound. “But he’s going to be managing and dealing with it, as he has all year. It’s unfortunate but it doesn’t sound as if it’s long-term or anything like that.”
Here we are, though, five months later and the Walker knee problem is still around. Sounds like it might be a long-term thing after all.