- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
It’s impossible to plot the future of Kemba Walker’s balky left knee. And nobody understands that better than Walker, which is why the 31-year-old couldn’t make declarations about his availability for the remainder of the season.
“We’ll see. We’ll see down the line,” Walker said. “It really just depends on how I feel.”
Walker has tried a stem cell injection and rest. He stopped playing both ends of back-to-back games in Boston, then signed in New York with a plan of splitting time at point guard with Derrick Rose.
But circumstances in the NBA are unpredictable, especially during a COVID-19 outbreak. It left Walker logging heavy minutes in December, and one “weird” step during warmups on New Year’s Eve shut him down for 20 days.
Walker said it wasn’t an injury of accumulation, just a freaky misstep.
“It was particular to that night,” Walker said. “It just happened during my warmup, just a weird step, I guess. I don’t know.”
Tuesday night’s 112-110 loss to the Timberwolves was more of an encouraging step for Walker. He played 30 minutes and contributed 19 points, providing the Knicks with the type of offense they’ve missed at point guard. He’s still not driving to the rim with effectiveness and Tom Thibodeau’s start-or-don’t-play edict with Walker remains puzzling.
But Walker nearly carried the Knicks to victory in the fourth quarter with three treys in two minutes. The Knicks (22-23) never hit another field goal, however, and choked at home to Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves.
“He brings speed. He brings an attitude to our team,” Evan Fournier said. “And he’s always smiling, he has a great attitude, he has a great spirit. It’s always great to see Kemba. With him on the floor it adds another weapon. He’s so good off the pick and roll and off the bounce. He shot great.”
It was Walker’s first game since Dec. 29, with the Knicks going 5-4 without their starting point guard. Overall this season, the Knicks are just 7-12 in games Walker doesn’t play.
“Just rest, really. I just needed to rest,” Walker said. “I was a little sore for a while. It was time, really I just wanted to feel good enough to get back on the court and (Tuesday) was the night.”
How did he feel?
“Felt good,” he said. “It was good to be out there with my teammates.”
Before Walker returned, Thibodeau said he hoped the point guard would heal up enough to play through the season without another long break — “What I don’t want a situation where it’s on-off, on-off,” the coach said.
That’s tough to ensure with Walker’s knee, no matter how long he sits between games. In the meantime — as the Knicks wait for Rose’s return from ankle surgery and keep Cam Reddish shelved — Walker’s going to have an important role when healthy.