Walker Gives Rehab Update as He and Celtics Return to Practice
Nine Celtics players returned to practice Thursday afternoon, as the team re-opened the Auerbach Center after an unpredictable week of health-related issues had forced them to shut it down.
Among them, as a full participant, was Kemba Walker.
After strengthening his left knee over the last few months, the All-Star point guard has finally begun to ramp up his on-court activities. So far, he has looked excellent, according to head coach Brad Stevens.
“His strengthening has gone fantastic,” Stevens told the media Thursday afternoon via Zoom. “He’s put in a ton of work. He went full-go today for an hour with us; we did not go live, but we did a lot of up and down, just trying to get our legs back in some ways with guys that haven’t done anything for a week. And he looked good.”
As for how he’s feeling? Walker claims that this is probably the freshest he has felt physically fresh in quite a long time.
It was around this time last year when Walker began to experience the discomfort in his left knee which ultimately derailed the remainder of his 2019-20 season. The injury caused him to miss 10 games from mid-January to mid-March before the season was suspended due to COVID-19.
The NBA hiatus allowed Walker to rest for four months until the season resumed, and he felt better upon entering the bubble, but he still wasn’t feeling totally himself throughout Boston’s playoff run.
This time, however, he feels different. And he’ll make sure not to return until he is at 100 percent health.
“I know I did say I was feeling really good the last time before the bubble, which I was, but the timing in between just wasn't really beneficial to me,” Walker stated. “But now, I am feeling really good, and the way I'm feeling right now is different from the way I felt before I went into the bubble. I've just been able to take my time, really just attack my rehab from Day 1. I wanted to get healthy, I wanted to stay healthy, try my best to not have any setbacks.”
This past week has been a setback of sorts, since Walker had to alter his return to practice due to the practice facility shutdown. But the 10-year vet said he was ready for such a curveball, knowing the unpredictable nature of this season.
“You just never know, so you’ve just got to adjust and adapt. And that’s what I’ve been doing,” Walker said. “Being that a few guys had to go into the protocol and stuff like that, I just have to adjust my workouts. Just figure out ways for me to be on the court and going as hard as I can, trying to simulate the NBA game as much as I can.”
As for when we’ll see Walker back in a real game, Stevens says that’s all up to the team’s training staff and Walker.
"This has been a planned-out, day-by-day, well-executed deal by our training staff and by Kemba,” Stevens said. “When he comes back, it’ll be because he’s ready and because he feels great and he’s ready to be Kemba.”
Walker confirmed that sentiment, saying, “That's the plan. Whenever I'm feeling good, and whenever I'm mentally ready and comfortable to get out there, I will.”