It’s already hampering him for next season, which begins Dec. 22.
Following consultation with multiple specialists in early October, Celtics guard Kemba Walker received a stem cell injection in his left knee, and was put on a 12-week strengthening program to prepare for the upcoming season. He is expected to return to on-court activities in early December, and a further update regarding his game availability will be provided during the first week of January.
This obviously isn’t great news for Walker, 30. His knee issues sound like the type that could linger the rest of his career. Not ideal for anyone, but especially a small guard.
Walker has three years and $108,048,600 remaining on his contract. Difficult decisions could lie ahead.
That said, Walker was still fairly effective while battling knee problems last season. He didn’t quite meet expectations, especially in the playoffs, but he didn’t suddenly turn into a bad player. Boston will miss him and improve when he returns.
Jeff Teague, signed for the bi-annual exception this offseason, could start in the meantime. He’s an experienced and capable NBA point guard. His production has been trending the wrong direction, and he’s now 32. But perhaps he’ll fare better on a winning team after spending last season on the moribund Timberwolves and Hawks.
No. 26 pick Payton Pritchard could step into a bigger role. He played four seasons at Oregon and looks pretty savvy for a rookie. But there’s also concern the 6-foot-2 Pritchard might just be too small and unathletic to translate to the NBA. Boston could need to find out quickly.
Marcus Smart is the best player available to play point guard for Boston. He’s also better when not tasked with that level of offensive responsibility. But he can play the position and gives the Celtics the best route to maximizing the amount of talent they put on the floor.