Jeff Teague might be more important early on than we anticipated.
The guard, of course, is the most recent acquisition for the Celtics. And while there is optimism about some of the younger guards (Tremont Waters, Carsen Edwards, Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith), a veteran like Teague is undoubtedly a necessity.
Now word comes down that when the NBA season kicks off Dec. 22 the Celtics might be leaning on Teague quite a bit thanks to the health of Kemba Walker.
Appearing on the Jeff Goodman and Bob Ryan Podcast on the CLNS Media Network, Celtics coach Brad Stevens revealed it might be a while until we get the old Walker back.
"The key to this whole thing with him is just strengthening the knee. Just continuing to take this opportunity when we’re not playing, when we’re not practicing to really focus on that," Stevens said. “Very similar to what we did at the beginning of the bubble. I think there’ll be a transition like that because of the shortened season, the shortened offseason. It’ll be some time before he’s going full speed for us for sure.”
Walker was obviously hampered by his injured knee throughout the postseason after not fully recovering during the league's hiatus. The guard carried a minutes restriction in the games leading up to the playoffs, averaging just more than 25 minutes per game.
For the season, the 30-year-old averaged 20.4 points per game. In the postseason Walker's minutes went up to 36.9 per game with his three-point shooting dipping to 31 percent.
“We haven’t settled on any timelines. This is more of a plan appropriately thing, so that he can play and play uninhibited as he moves forward, a lot like the bubble,” Stevens said. “The bubble was unique, because you went basically four months off, so there was a different challenge there in that ramping up was a big threat to everybody. But certainly if you had a situation like his, where if he goes too fast, too soon that probably wouldn’t have been good. Here it’s just too soon until the season. So I anticipate, again, we’ll be slow with him as the season starts, as practice starts.”