Celtics Notes: Walker, Hayward, Williams, Thompson

Kemba Walker, who will miss the start of the season as he rehabs an injured left knee, won’t attempt to return until he’s confident that the knee is 100%, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The Celtics support that decision and don’t plan to give any updates on Walker’s availability until the first week in January. Coach Brad Stevens said he will gradually increase Walker’s playing time when he does return, similar to how he was handled during the restart in Orlando.

Walker visited two specialists after the Celtics were eliminated from the playoffs. They decided to give him a stem cell injection in the knee and set up a 12-week strengthening program that Walker began in early October and will finish in January.

“There’s no rush. There’s no rush on my end,” he said. “I’m coming back when I need to come back and when I’m feeling good to play. So that’s it. … I want to be at my best. The last time in the playoffs, I wasn’t at my best, and that sucked. I don’t want to be that way no more.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Walker understands that Gordon Hayward‘s decision to sign with the Hornets is part of the business side of the game and he’s not upset about losing a teammate, Bontemps adds in the same piece. Hayward opted out of his contract with the Celtics for the upcoming season and got $120MM over four years to join Walker’s former team. “I spoke to him during the process, and I’m happy for him,” Walker said. “… He’s going to have a great time in Charlotte. It’s a great place to be. It’s a great city, great fans. They love basketball. They’re going to love Gordon. He’s a great player. He’s going to bring joy to that organization.”
  • Among the Celtics’ young players, Grant Williams has the best chance to make an impact this season, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Boston was 21-5 last season when Williams played at least 17 minutes, and he provided an encouraging shooting display in Orlando, making 10 of 17 from three-point range. With Hayward gone, Williams could be in contention for a starting role, Forsberg adds.
  • Tristan Thompson believes his performance against Boston over the years prompted the team’s interest, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. “Coach always told me, usually the team that you have a lot of success against or beat up against a lot of years in the playoffs, they usually want you to join their side when you’re available or when you become a free agent,” Thompson said.
  • Jeff Teague‘s new contract with Boston is for the veteran’s minimum, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).
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