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Kemba Walker: Knee wasn’t right after Celtics playoff run

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Kemba said in his first press conference of the season he looks forward to time off and feels better after an October stem cell injection in his left knee.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Kemba Walker is ready for some rest.

The Celtics point guard spoke today optimistic that time off will return him to his all star status, one day after the Celtics announced he would miss games into January in favor of a knee strengthening program. He hadn’t rested since joining the Celtics in July, 2019, between the FIBA World Cup, the regular season, the quarantine period in Charlotte and the NBA Bubble run that followed. Now, he’s not rushing back to the court.

“The way I felt the last couple of months, if I don’t feel that way, I’ll know I’m better,” Walker said. “I wasn’t myself, it didn’t feel good.”

The agreement with Danny Ainge and the Celtics medical staff follows a similar ramp-up period before the bubble in the summer, where Walker pushed to return. He said then he believed he could play comfortably, as Boston managed him through scrimmages and sat him for two regular season games. Walker appeared to loath sitting when Brad Stevens tried to steal him some rest during the playoffs. As his effectiveness waned later in the playoffs, Walker realized things weren’t right trying to make his typical dynamic movements.

Walker consulted with two doctors who agreed that a 12-week program following a stem cell injection gave him the best chance to regenerate cartilage lost through multiple knee surgeries. When bones collide, pain, discomfort and limited mobility can set in. There’s no immediately helpful surgical remedy for what Walker is experiencing.

“I’ve been playing for so long without getting a break,” Walker said, who emphasized he’s not rushing back to the court and will enjoy the break. Boston will reevaluate him in January.

The Celtics otherwise appear better, Walker said, touting the Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague additions. He shared no ill will toward Gordon Hayward, not caring at all that the Hornets paid Hayward and refused to offer Walker the max in free agency in 2019. The Brad Wanamaker loss, after the Warriors signed Boston’s backup guard, hurt Walker most, as the two bonded through late-night conversations in the bubble.

Kemba still looks forward to what Teague can do after battling him during their primes in Charlotte and Atlanta. Teague will likely man most of the point minutes while Walker strengthens the area around his knee as a final shot at stability.

“It was the best way to go,” he said. “It’s definitely calmed my knee down a lot.”