Kemba Walker is sitting out of the Boston Celtics first scrimmage game on Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite not playing tomorrow, Walker said he wishes he could play and that “It felt really good to go through a full practice. Good to play with the guys. I’m in a good place right now.”
Walker started his media availability by saying “We need justice for Breonna Taylor. This is what we want. This is what we need. This is what the world needs.” He then answered a question by saying he’s impressed with how the game courts look and what the NBA has set up at Walt Disney World.
As for his knee, Walker said it initially got better over the break, but flared on him when he started playing again. He said “Now I feel good. They made a great choice keeping me out of some of these practices.”
When asked if he has any worries about the knee for the rest of this season, Walker said “No. I think I’m going to be fine. It’s all about maintenance.”
Walker was asked if surgery was ever brought up and emphatically shot that down saying “No. No. No. No. No. No surgery.”
Brad Stevens had previously said that Walker would be the only Celtics player unavailable for Friday’s scrimmage. This means that rookie point guard Tremont Waters has passed through the concussion protocol and will play.
Stevens said all of the Celtics young players benefited most from the pause of the season: “At the end of the season, it’s hard when you’re not playing much to be psyched about going to the gym. These guys all worked hard and they improved over the break. They’re all going to get a chance to play a lot over these three scrimmages.”
Like Walker, Stevens said he thinks the game courts are impressive. He said he toured them as part of a group with Masai Ujiri and Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and that all of them came away excited about the venues.
Stevens was asked about how Gordon Hayward has adapted his game and stepped back to let Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens said that it’s in Hayward’s nature to just make the right play: “He makes the play that opens up. If it’s a pass, he passes. If he can score, he scores. He’s always been a guy who makes the right play. That’s in his wheelhouse.”
When asked how Hayward can help Boston deal with opponents blitzing Tatum to force him to give the ball up, Stevens called upon his team’s depth of playmakers. He said “Gordon can, Kemba can, Jaylen can, Marcus (Smart) can. We should be a really hard team to blitz. We have bigs who can finish. They can all pass. Everyone has to be ready.”
Walker was also asked about taking on a different role in Boston with the development of Tatum and Brown. He said he knew what he was getting into when he signed with the Celtics: “I knew how good those guys could be. We’re having fun. I’ve been a 20-points per game scorer. I don’t care about points. I just want to make runs in the playoffs. It’s about those guys getting better.”
Walker went on to explain that his focus is on winning and providing leadership for his team. He said if the Celtics make a deep playoff run, it will take everyone working together to get there.
The Boston Celtics will scrimmage the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday at 5:00 PM ET. The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Boston, as well as NBATV. As it is the first scrimmage for both teams, the game will feature 10-minute quarters versus the standard 12-minute quarters.