NBA: Knee to keep Celtics' Walker out until January

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Dec 02 2020 09:16 AM

NBA: Knee to keep Celtics' Walker out until January 1
Boston guard Kemba Walker during the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker received a stem cell injection in his left knee and won't return until the first week of January at the earliest.

The Celtics said Tuesday that Walker received the injection after visits with multiple specialists in early October. He was put on a 12-week strengthening program.

The team said Walker is expected to resume on-court activities in early December. In early January, the team plans to update his availability for games.

Walker, 30, is entering the second year of a four-year deal with the Celtics. He averaged 19.6 points in the playoffs, and team president Danny Ainge said it was clear Walker was not himself due to the knee injury.

Asked Tuesday if the Celtics believe there are long-term concerns over Walker's knee, Ainge pointed to the season ahead.

"I think ... this year will tell us a lot," Ainge said.

While Walker wouldn't blame his three-time surgically repaired left knee for his play, Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens said it was hampering him throughout the 2 1/2 months the team spent at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando after the season restarted this summer.

"I could see, even when he was (in Boston) before the bubble started, which is why he was shut down a little bit and doing strength training and trying to prepare himself for the playoff run and the intensity of the playoff run, but he was definitely not himself," Ainge said during a season wrap-up conference call.

"In fairness to Kemba, he doesn't want to say that. He doesn't say that to our coaches. He doesn't say that to you, the media. He doesn't say that to me. I haven't heard one excuse from him. But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn't the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we're going to try to get that Kemba back."

Walker averaged 20.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds last season. The four-time All-Star played the previous eight seasons for the Charlotte franchise.

Walker first mentioned knee soreness to the Celtics before the All-Star Game in February. At that point, he had the knee drained of fluid and received an injection of Synvisc.

The Celtics also confirmed Tuesday that guard Romeo Langford will miss the start of the season as he continues to rehab from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist. He underwent the procedure on Sept. 22, with a recovery time of four to five months.

The No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Langford averaged 2.5 points and 11.6 minutes per game over 32 games as a rookie.