Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge said the Star Point guard Kemba Walker “Certainly not him” when the team stayed inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
“I was not there [in the bubble], “Ainge said Thursday during his season-ending conference following the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.” I was watching from here, but I could see he was still here before the bubble started – which is why he stopped a little bit and tried strength training to prepare himself for the intensity of the playoff run and playoff run – but he certainly was not himself.
“Honestly to Kemba, he did not want to say that. He did not say that to our coaches. He did not say that to you, to the media. He did not say that to me. I did not ask for an excuse from him. But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games he played well, October I can tell he’s not as physically fit as he was in November and December, so we’ve going to try to get that Kemba back. “
Walker has been dealing with left knee problems since January. They infected him two months before the league closed due to a corona virus infection – especially when the All-Star Game and mid-March season stopped – and then train again in June before heading back to Orlando after returning to Boston.
Walker looked horrible when he dropped the Boston Philadelphia 76 Airs in the first round, after a slow full minute in the six weeks leading up to the playoffs. But he changed his left knee again in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-final against the Toronto Raptors. When he had good games after that, Walker was never the same.
“I know Kemba wants to be 100 percent back and play his best basketball,” Ainge said. “Not even in his best game, he averaged 19 or 20 points per game in the playoffs. He’s still a good player, but he’s not what it used to be. There’s nothing more frustrating than having an athlete on the biggest stage in your game. I was a player.It’s not fun.It’s stressful. Garden [Hayward] Kemba tried to do it.
“I know everyone has clashed a little bit this year, and I’m just saying those people … they ‘have been limited in what they can do since we got used to seeing them.”
Overall, Walker had a successful first season in Boston, which helped stabilize the organization after the exit. Kyrie Irving. In his eight years with Charlotte Hornets, Walker made his first deep playoff run after only reaching the latter season twice – and losing twice in the first round.
“Kemba is a great man,” Ainge said. “His leadership and accountability … He gave no reason, he came to play, he felt the moment he was there. He was a player who understood how special it was to be here, he had never had those opportunities in his life. 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 so good to be around, which is why I feel so bad. This is his first time on a big stage … and he gave everything he had. He played well, but we know he’s not himself.” But he’s a terrific leader and a terrific. Team player and a wonderful person. “
This is the third time in four seasons that the Celtics have seen their season end in the Eastern Conference finals. The first two times, Boston’s losses came against LeBron James In his eight consecutive NBA Finals.
However, this was the first time Boston had lost to a team that was considered a loser – albeit slightly. Speaking of which, he found what he liked about this season, including growth Jaylan Brown, Jason Todd And Marcus Smart, He acknowledged that the final results proved that Boston was simply “not enough.”
“First of all, I was very impressed with the development of our young players and how good they are,” Ainge said. “Two, I think Jaylan and Jason are very special. Marcus played a big, very big role for us. He was a great complement to those two. I learned how good they are when Kemba and Gordon are healthy. The team when our team is healthy.
“But I feel there are a lot of things we don’t know about our team because many of the players on our bench didn’t get opportunities. … I think we learned a lot about each of the individuals and our team collectively. I think we learned that we didn’t have enough.”
One thing Ainge thought was enough, however, was the team’s chemistry, which was questioned after a locker room dust – loud in the middle of the smart – following the loss of Boston’s Game 2 to Miami.
Chemical problems plagued Boston last season when Irving and the team’s young players clashed before being diverted to the second round by Milwaukee Bucks. This year, with the exception of that moment after Game 2, those issues never appeared, and Ainge was quick to defend his team way all year round.
“I would say I haven’t heard anything from our year or our coaches through Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals,” Ainge said. “I haven’t heard anything, but what a positive culture it was, what a great team we had, it was a joy, how much fun it was to see this team play.
“I thought so too. I loved being around the team. I loved watching our team compete. I loved all the men I came in contact with.”
Ainge said he had not read much about what happened after Game 2.
“I personally have been around a long time, and as you can tell, I will not exaggerate with them [moments], “Ainge said.” I think our chemistry has definitely improved this year. Our team was enhanced by the excellent chemistry and excellent culture created here. “
Entering the office, Ainge is ready to pay the Boston luxury tax – one important thing, due to the epidemic and the financial ruin it caused in the league, the Celtics will be well on their way to next season. This will be especially true if Howard expects to choose his .134.1 million player option for next season.
One thing that remains unchanged is the presence of totamine. Despite his extension against Miami, he did not make a big impact in the game, it was still a successful season as he revealed his first All-Star and All-NBA appearances.
Boston’s title aspirations for the coming seasons will be built around Tottenham and Brown, with the team agreeing to a contract extension before this season.
“Jason knows how much we love him,” Ainge said. “We have a good relationship, Jason wants it here, so I hope we can do something this summer – this office, I have to say.”