In a bit of a surprise, and perhaps speaking to the relative non-issue of his knee soreness, Kemba Walker took his turn on Zoom with the assembled media on Thursday night. Walker admitted to the knee being sore, but downplayed the severity of the pain.
Walker was asked several times about his knee and his frustration was evident. Walker admitted as much, saying “I’m frustrated because I’m not a guy who has missed time.”
Brad Stevens said Walker took part in a couple of portions of what was a light practice. Stevens said that was as the team had planned.
For his part, Walker seems to agree with the teams plan of taking it slow: “I’ll be back. That’s that. The plan is to take it slow. I don’t want to have any setbacks. I’ll be back in time when things get real for sure.”
When asked what he felt when he was originally hurt, Walker said he felt pain on the side of his knee. He emphasized that it was significant enough to keep him out of the lineup: “I’ve been able to play through a lot, but it was bothering me. The best choice was to sit out. This is not normal for me. But it’s the smart way to go about things.”
Stevens talked about how the Celtics originally incorporated Walker into the lineup by starting out with things they knew he was comfortable with. Stevens said that his original plans for Walker’s fit in the offense have changed after getting to know him and seeing him with his teammates: “We have things we will add before the playoffs for Kemba.”
As for his own thoughts on how he fits within the Boston offense, Walker smiled “Brad puts me in position to do a lot of things. He lets me do a lot in pick and roll. The guys around me give me a lot of space. I’m more efficient and it helps having those guys around me being so efficient too.”
Walker said he’s looking forward to playing with Jayson Tatum, who has taken his game to a new level with Walker out. “He’s been killing it. I haven’t really been able to help out the way I wanted. But I’m looking forward to coming back to make an impact with him.”
Walker wrapped up by talking about his knee one last time: “I’m not concerned much honestly. I’m trending upwards. I’m fine. I’ll be back better than ever.”
Stevens said the Celtics went through a fairly light practice on Thursday night. He said the plan is to scrimmage a lot tomorrow and to put the team through a longer practice. Stevens expressed he’s impressed with how everything has been organized by the NBA and Disney. He said switching gyms and switching practice times isn’t a big deal and that every team is going through the same thing. He said the different practice times can even be helpful, considering the seeding games will be played throughout the afternoon and evening.
When the Celtics are off the court, Stevens stresses to them to have a “joyful period. It’s not just about games right now. There’s 21 other hours to fill.” Stevens said he enjoys that his players are spending time together playing golf, riding bikes and at the pool. He’s asking the players to “focus on each other. Find a teammate you don’t know well and go have lunch together. This is valuable time together that we never get.”
Boston big man Daniel Theis said he’s enjoyed hanging out with his teammates off the court. Theis said he’s looking forward to seeing his fellow German NBA players when games start.
Theis has also picked up golf as a new hobby since arriving at Walt Disney World. Theis said the game is completely new to him, but that he’s enjoyed his limited experience so far. As for Walker, who has golfed regularly with Tatum in Florida, he described his golf game as “terrible, bro. Honestly, I’m awful. I’m so bad.”