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Woj: Celtics Had 'Real Concerns' About Kemba Walker's Left Knee Prior to Trade

Adam WellsJune 19, 2021

AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File

The knee issues that plagued Kemba Walker since the second half of the 2019-20 season played a role in the Boston Celtics' decision to trade the four-time All-Star. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on NBA Countdown that the Celtics had "such concerns" about Walker's knee and "how much he would really be available for them and able to play at a really high level" over the next two seasons (starts at :39 mark). 

The Celtics announced on Friday they had traded Walker, the No. 16 pick in the 2021 NBA draft and a 2025 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a second-round pick in 2023. 

After playing in the 2020 All-Star Game, Walker missed the first five games of the second half with a knee injury. He told reporters that he had to have his knee drained and received an injection to alleviate some of his pain. 

Walker did play all 17 playoff games for the Celtics last season. The 31-year-old told reporters prior to the start of this season that he underwent a stem cell procedure on his ailing knee. 

The Celtics held Walker out for the first 11 games of the 2020-21 season. He wound up playing in 43 of 72 games during the regular season. The Connecticut alum average of 19.3 points per game and field-goal percentage of 42.0 were his worst numbers in those categories since 2014-15. 

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Walker sat out Boston's last two games in the first round of the playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets with a bruised left knee. 

The Celtics signed Walker to a four-year, $140.8 million contract in July 2019. He is still owed $36 million next season and has a $37.7 million player option for the 2022-23 season. 

Rather than bet on Walker returning to form, the Celtics brought back Horford after he had three successful seasons with the team from 2016 to 2019. Brown is also more than a throw-in as a 21-year-old center who averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds in 43 appearances with the Thunder last season. 

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