Boston Celtics star Kemba Walker to miss the start of the 2020-21 NBA season with left knee injury

All-Star point guard Kemba Walker will be shelved for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
All-Star point guard Kemba Walker will be shelved for the start of the 2020-21 NBA season. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics have shelved Kemba Walker until at least the start of January, as the All-Star point guard continues to recover from a lingering left knee injury, the team announced on Monday morning.

On the advice of multiple specialists, Walker received a stem-cell injection in October. He began a 12-week strengthening program that has him scheduled to return to on-court action early this month. Walker’s game availability will be reevaluated the first week of January, when the Celtics plan to provide another update.

Walker underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May 2017. He first missed a game last season with a sore left knee on Jan. 18. He had the knee drained and received a Synvisc injection to treat swelling and soreness in late February, missing nine of Boston’s final 14 games before the NBA’s hiatus in March.

Upon the NBA’s return in July, Walker was still experiencing soreness in the knee. He was placed on a minutes restriction and missed two of the Celtics’ final eight regular-season games in the Orlando bubble. Walker started all 17 of Boston’s playoff games, but was clearly hindered by the injury, despite averages of 19.6 points (on subpar 44/31/85 shooting splits), 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 36.9 minutes per game.

Last season marked Walker’s first with the Celtics since leaving the Charlotte Hornets for a four-year, $140.8 million maximum contract in July 2019. The injury has to be of concern for a 30-year-old point guard who at 6 feet tall relies heavily on quick changes of pace and direction that put pressure on the knee.

In the short-term, the Celtics signed veteran free-agent point guard Jeff Teague as Walker’s backup and selected four-year University of Oregon floor general Payton Pritchard in the first round of this year’s draft. First Team All-Defensive guard Marcus Smart can also assume playmaking duties in Walker’s absence.

Check back soon for more details.

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