Boston Celtics GM says KBA Walker was ‘definitely not himself’ while living in NBA bubble


Boston Celtics president Danny Anging said star point guard Kemba Walker was “definitely not himself” during the team’s stay inside the bubble at the NBA’s Walt Disney World Resort.

“I was not there [in the bubble], “I was watching from here, but I could see, when he was here before the bubble started,” Ang said during his end-of-season conference loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. , Which is why he was a little off-putting and doing strength training and trying to prepare himself for a playoff run and the intensity of the playoffs increased, but he certainly wasn’t himself.

“In fairness to Komba, he doesn’t want to say that. He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I don’t.” Heard an excuse from him. But looking at the games, even the games we won, even where he played well, I could tell that he was not as physically as he was in October, November, December. So we are going. Trying to get Kimba back. “

Walker has dealt with left knee issues since January. They plagued him during the final two months before the league was shut down due to the final COVID-19 pandemic – especially between the All-Star Game in mid-February and when the season was halted in mid-March – and his The latter returned to practice in June before moving to Boston again in Orlando.

After slowly ramping up the full minutes during the six weeks preceding the playoffs, Walker looked great in the Philadelphia 76ers’ sweep of Boston in the first round. But he appeared to bend his left knee again in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. And while he had good games after that, Walker never looked the same.

“I know that Kemba wants to come back 100%, and is playing his best basketball,” Aang said. “Even at his best, he still averaged 19 or 20 points per game in the playoffs. He’s still a really good player, but that’s not who he was. The greatest stage for an athlete. There is nothing more frustrating than being on it. The world in and of itself is not capable of its game. I’ve been there before as a player. It’s not fun. It’s stressful and Gordon is. [Hayward] And Kamba was trying to do so.

“I know everyone has a little bang at this time of the year. I’m just saying that they were people … they were limited in what they could do that we are used to seeing them.”

Overall, Walker had a successful first season in Boston that helped stabilize the organization after Kyrie Irving departed. He made his first deep playoff run after reaching the postseason only twice – and lost both times in the first round – during his four years with the Charlate Hornets.

“Kemba is a great man,” Ang said. “His leadership and being accountable … He made no excuses, he came to play, he realized the moment he was in. He’s a player who understood how special it is to be here, and for those opportunities Never for. Was in his career. But he has a smile on his face, he brings joy to the game and the team and the entire organization on a daily basis.

“He’s great for being around, and that’s why I feel so bad. It’s his first time on a big stage … and he gave everything he had. He used to play well, but we know Is that he was not himself. But he is a brilliant leader, and a terrific teammate, and a wonderful person. ”

This year marked the third time in four seasons that the Celtics have seen their season come to the Eastern Conference Finals. The first two times, Boston’s losses appeared during eight consecutive NBA Finals against LeBron James.

This time, however, marked the first time Boston had lost to a team that was considered a Dalit – even if a minor. And while Engage said he has seen a lot that he likes about this season, including the rise of Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum and Marcus Smart, he admitted that the end result proved Boston to be “just not very good Was. ”

“First of all, I’ve been very impressed with the development of our young players and how good they are getting,” Aang said. “Two, I think Jaylen and Jayson are very special. Marcus played a big, big role for us. He’s a great complementary piece to those two guys. I learned how good Kemba and Gordon are when they’re healthy. And how good we are. ” The team is when our team is healthy.

“But it seems to me that we don’t know a lot about our team, because there haven’t been so many opportunities for our players, who are on our bench. … I think we’ve learned a lot. And about our team collectively. I think we learned that we are not good enough. ”

One thing Anging thought to be good enough, though, was the team’s chemistry, which was called into question after the dust-mud of the locker room – one that Smart was loudly in the middle of – to Miami after Boston’s game 2 damage.

Chemistry issues troubled Boston the most last season, when Irving and the team’s young players were at constant odds before being seconded by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. This year, separated from that moment after Game 2, those issues never raised his head, and Anger was quick to defend how his group came together during the year.

“I would say that throughout the year, I hadn’t heard anything from our players or our coaches through Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals,” Aang said. “I never heard anything, but what a positive culture it was and we had a great team and it was such a pleasure to be around, what a pleasure to see this team playing.

“I thought the same way. I really loved being around the team, I loved watching our team compete and I liked all the people I was communicating with.”

Anger said that he didn’t read too much into what happened after Game 2.

“I personally have been around for a long time, as you guys can tell, and I won’t tell those people [moments], “Said Anging. I think our chemistry was enhanced this year. Our team was enhanced by the great chemistry and great culture that was created here.”

Entering the offseason, Anging said that Boston is ready to pay the luxury tax – an important point, given that it has dominated the league due to pandemics and financial mayhem, with the Celtics well into tax next season Likely to happen. . This would be especially true if Hayward, as expected, opposes his $ 34.1 million player option for next season.

One thing that must be sustained is the presence of Tatum. Despite the stretch against Miami, where he did not make a big impact on the game, it was still a wildly successful season as he made his first All-Star and All-NBA appearances.

Boston’s title aspirations will be built around Tatum and Brown in the coming seasons, which the team agreed to a contract extension before this season.

“Jason knows how much we like him,” Ang said. “We have a great relationship. Jason likes it, so I’m confident we’ll be able to do some work this summer – this offshin, I should say.”

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