Walker Optimistic About Knee Progress: ‘I'm Trending Upward’
BOSTON – The status of Kemba Walker’s left knee has been a hot topic of discussion around the NBA this week, so on Thursday night, Boston’s All-Star point guard addressed the issue himself.
The main message that he wanted to get across to Celtics fans was not to worry.
During a post-practice Zoom teleconference with the media, Walker confirmed that he felt some pain return to the side of his left knee upon returning to practice, which prompted the team to take a cautious approach with his activity over the past week. However, the nine-year veteran also spoke optimistically about his progress and believes that he’ll be back in the full swing of things soon.
“I’m feeling good,” he insisted. “It’s really just taking one day at a time right now, just being smart, being cautious for the most part … I don’t want to have any setbacks or anything like that, so just taking it slow. But I’ll be back in time for when things get real, for sure.”
Walker’s knee soreness initially became an issue in January, and it caused him to miss 10 games over two months before the NBA suspended its season in mid-March. When the team returned to action last week in Orlando, so did his soreness. In response, the team put him on a one-day on, one-day off plan in order to get him up to speed safely.
Thursday, for example, was an on-day for Walker, so he went through a couple of portions of the team’s practice, which coach Brad Stevens described as a light session for the entire group.
These practice sessions are held privately, so no one can see exactly how Walker is looking, but teammate Enes Kanter provided some promising insight earlier this week.
"For Kemba, it’s like riding a bike,” Kanter told NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. “Once he’s out there, he’s going to get everybody rolling. He’s going to make himself better, he’s going to make everybody else better around him. The Celtics fans should not be so worried about him. It’s Kemba Walker.”
Added the veteran big man: “He looks really good to me, man. He looks in really good shape, very lean. He didn’t lose any touch or whatever. To me, it’s Kemba. He’s an All-Star, superstar. Obviously, he knows how to play basketball. Once he gets out there, he’s going to get himself going. What’s impressed me about him so much is his leadership. Sometimes you’re sidelined, but he's still talking, still communicating, still with a smile.”
Deep down, Walker admits that it's frustrating not being able to approach things at full-throttle right now, but he also understands the bigger picture at stake.
“This is not normal for me being out like this,” said Walker, who had missed just six games in his previous four seasons combined. “But this is just the smart way to go about things because I want to be at my best for my teammates and this organization when that regular season comes around, and most definitely in the Playoffs.”
He went on to add, “I’m not really concerned much, honestly, because I think I’m trending upwards, and I’m getting better, and I’m getting closer to my return. I’m fine. I’ll be back better than ever."