Earlier this morning, Shams Charania announced that Kemba Walker received a stem cell injection in his knee and will be out for at least the month of December. After consulting with multiple doctors in October and receiving his stem cell injection, he was put on a 12-week strengthening program to prepare him for the next season. An update regarding his game availability will be given during the first week of January.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but this news hurts. It was expected that Walker would get his knee checked out and see what needed to be done, but nobody wanted to learn that he’d miss the start of the season because of it.
This announcement makes the Jeff Teague signing make a lot more sense. I understand they brought him in to be a backup, but Teague may find himself in the starting lineup with Kemba out. Yes, I would much rather Jeff Teague start over Marcus Smart. Smart is great in any lineup, but he’s best suited coming off Boston’s bench. They’d struggle too much without him, at least at the beginning of the year.
Young guys like Payton Pritchard and Tremont Waters are going to have to step up as well. Waters might not get much playing time considering he’s on another 2-way contract, but Pritchard will get an opportunity right away. Boston drafted Pritchard to be a role player who can play a few minutes a night, but his role is about to change for the time being. He’ll have the opportunity to find a consistent spot in the rotation, even when Walker returns.
Would I say that I’m worried about Kemba’s knee? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. Ultimately, I think he’ll be fine, but the Celtics need to be smart about this. Danny Ainge admitted that bringing him back in the bubble so quickly might have been a mistake. The last thing the team needs is bringing him back when he’s not 100% and further injuring his knee.
At the end of the day, there’s no rush to bring Walker back. As thin as the guard position will be, the team has plenty of options, and multiple players will receive opportunities to crack the rotation. I’d much rather have the team load-manage the crap out of Kemba during the regular season so he can be better than 100% going into the playoffs. The regular season is cool and everything, but we want our star players healthy when it matters the most.
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer