Kemba Walker isn’t expect to play early in the season for the Celtics after having a stem cell injection in his troublesome left knee. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

BOSTON — Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker said Wednesday that his left knee has responded well to a stem cell injection that is expected to keep him out until at least January.

“It’s definitely calmed my knee down a lot,” Walker told reporters in a teleconference from the team’s training camp. “Feeling really good right now. Just taking my time, trying to continue to feel good, get stronger.”

Walker missed a handful of games in February and then nearly had his first playoff run with Boston derailed when he tweaked the knee during workouts leading up to the resumption of the season in the bubble. He sat out two of the seeding games and played limited minutes in others.

After averaging 20.4 points and 4.8 assists – both down from his numbers during his three previous All-Star seasons in Charlotte – he averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 assists during the postseason, when the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference finals.

“To be honest, it wasn’t good. I wasn’t myself,” Walker said. “I played through it and I was able to get through it. … It was tough, but you know a lot of guys are banged up. Everybody’s hurt. I try not to make excuses.”

Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, said Tuesday that Walker is on a 12-week strengthening program and is expected to resume on-court activities in early December. Walker said he will not rush back before he is ready.


“I’m coming back when I’m feeling good to play,” he said. “I want to be at my best. Last year in the playoffs, I wasn’t at my best. … I don’t want it to be that way any more.”

LAST OFFSEASON, the Charlotte Hornets opted not to offer Walker the full super-max contract for which he was eligible, paving the way for his exit to Boston in free agency.

This offseason, the Hornets found some room in the budget to pay Walker’s former teammate Gordon Hayward, a four-year, $120 million deal. So after Walker spent the first eight years of his career in Charlotte, does he bear any ill will toward the Hornets, who opted to pay Hayward instead of him?

“Nah,” Walker said on Wednesday, drawing out the word for emphasis. “I could care less. I’m in the place I’m supposed to be. This is all God’s work, man. I can’t control none of that stuff. I can only control what I can. And Gordon, that’s my brother. My brother, man. I spoke to him during the process and I’m happy for him. I’m happy. Whatever makes somebody happy in this league, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about anybody else.

“I made my choice to come here to Boston because this is where I wanted to be because it makes me happy. And G, he’s happy. I’m sure he’s happy. He’s going to have a great time in Charlotte. It’s a great place to be, it’s a great city, great fans, they love basketball. They’re going to love Gordon. He’s a great player. He’s going to bring joy to that organization.”

Walker said his conversations with Hayward were relatively limited, since Hayward already had a good idea what the Hornets organization was like – he signed an offer sheet with Charlotte in 2014 before Utah matched and brought him back.


“Much hasn’t changed since then,” Walker said. “He didn’t ask much. When it comes to decisions like that, it’s really just about yourself and your family. There wasn’t much he could ask me to tell you the truth. But it’s a great place. He’s going to love it. He’s going to love it.”

SEASON OPENER: The Celtics will open their season Dec. 23 at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, followed by a 5 p.m. game on Christmas when the Brooklyn Nets visit Boston.

The NBA has not released its full schedule yet, and when it does it will be in two pieces. The first half of the schedule will be released at some point in the next few weeks, and the second half will be released later in the year, apparently to allow for some wiggle room for postponed or canceled games due to COVID-19.

The season begins Dec. 22 with Golden State at Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers against the Lakers.

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