Knicks' Kemba Walker Says 'I Know I Should Be Playing' After Dropping 29 vs. Celtics

Adam WellsDecember 19, 2021

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 18: Kemba Walker #8 of the New York Knicks reacts during the first half of a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on December 18, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker turned back the clock during Saturday's 114-107 loss to the Boston Celtics. 

Playing in his first game since Nov. 26, Walker dropped a season-high 29 points in 37 minutes. 

"I know I should be playing," Walker told reporters after the game. 

He added to having a "rough couple years" because of injuries and "it's been a tough time" so far this season, but "I feel like I'm built for any situation."

The Boston Celtics traded the four-time All-Star to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he became a free agent after Oklahoma City bought out his contract.

Walker's two-season tenure with the Celtics was a disappointment in part because of injuries. He only appeared in 99 games from 2019-20 to 2020-21, averaging 19.9 points on 42.3 percent shooting from the field.

A Bronx native, Walker chose to sign with the Knicks as a free agent. He began the season as their primary point guard, but things didn't go well for him or the team. The 31-year-old averaged 11.7 points on 41.3 percent three-point shooting but had just 3.1 assists per game in 18 starts.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters on Nov. 29 that Walker was no longer going to be in New York's rotation and Alec Burks would move into the starting lineup at point guard.

"I could be pissed. I could be upset," Walker told reporters about Thibodeau's decision. "But at the end of the day, there's some young guys here who look up to me. I'm pretty sure they wanted to see how I reacted to the situation. Anybody on my team down the line can be in the same situation. Maybe I can be a role model in that aspect."

Walker got the start Saturday night because the Knicks currently have six players in health and safety protocols. Derrick Rose was also unavailable to play with a right ankle injury.

Even though the Knicks came up short against the Celtics and are now a season-high four games under .500 (13-17), Walker's effort in the game at least provides some optimism that things could turn around.