Everyone wondered who would be the first player traded by Boston‘s new decision-maker Brad Stevens. Having coached the players, he was now in power to ship out of Boston; it was going to be revealing. Not many people had Kemba Walker as the favorite, so the news of his trade to OKC caught most off guard.
The first thing everyone will tell you about Kemba Walker is that he is a high-character guy. Someone who instantly raises the level of professionalism and mood in the locker room. But it seems things didn’t develop that way between Kemba and the Celtics. In a recent episode of the BS Podcast, Bill Simmons shared the frustrations the Celtics had with Walker.
It goes back to the pandemic. His knee was hurt before the pandemic. They gave him all these exercises; I didn’t see this reported anywhere, but I think I talked about it last year. They gave him all these exercises to work on his knee because the trainers weren’t allowed to be in the same room with anybody. So it’s like ‘Hey, you gotta work on this, do all this stuff,’ and from what I heard, he didn’t do it. When he came back to the bubble, his knee was in the exact same shape it was before the pandemic.Bill Simmons, The Bill Simmons Podcast
Simmons said he believes the discontent started from the Celtics side because they had given Kemba a huge contract knowing he had knee issues. When Walker didn’t take care of it the way the Celtics felt was necessary, problems started.
It’s no secret Walker’s game depends on quickness and agility, which suffer a lot when you have knee problems. Did something happen beforehand that made Kemba rethink his commitment to the Celtics and the dedication in his rehab, we don’t know. But obviously, a disconnect happened, and Brad Stevens knew the biggest item on his list was the max contract guy who wasn’t happy, nor was the organization happy with him.
I think they’re like, ‘Either this guy didn’t work on his knee correctly or his knee is degenerative. Either way we’re in trouble, we have to get off this asset.‘Bill Simmons, The Bill Simmons Podcast
Kemba’s now in Oklahoma City, which will give him all the time in the world to rehab and get back to 100%. They will probably still be the Oklahoma City Tankers next season, trying to get a top pick in the draft, so Walker will have no pressure to play. Once he feels ready, he’ll have the chance to show everyone he’s good to go in the first three quarters. The 4th quarter will probably feature players you never heard of.
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