Boston Celtics

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 15: Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics directs his teammates during the first half against the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

Hopes of Celtics guard Kemba Walker returning in the coming weeks took a major hit this week, as Celtics coach Brad Stevens outright admitted that the 30-year-old remains a long way away.

“Kemba is on the court doing one-on-one stuff with a coach,” Stevens said after Tuesday’s practice. “Still no up and down, no cutting, no one else on the basket. So, [he’s] still a long way away.”

The update, while discouraging, isn’t necessarily shocking.

The Celtics’ last update on Walker came back in December with word that Walker received a stem cell injection in his left knee, and that he was put on a 12-week strengthening program to prepare for the 2020-21 season. The Celtics added that their next update on Walker, at least in regards to his game availability, would come in early January.

So, there’s still time. But, again, the whole ‘long way away’ thing is concerning when it comes to the hope of the Celtics operating at 100 percent anytime soon.

That said, Walker has also made it clear he’s not coming back until he’s completely ready to go.

“I’m coming back when I need to come back and when I’m feeling good to play,” Walker admitted earlier this month. “That’s it. I haven’t really been a guy who’s been hurt over the course of my career, so this sucks, but I also love the basketball and I wanna play at a high level in front of the fans who come to watch this game.

“That’s the plan [and] it’s no rush on my end.”

With Walker out, the Celtics will begin the 2020-21 NBA season with Marcus Smart as their starting point guard, and with veteran Jeff Teague leading the second unit as the C’s go-to backcourt scoring option.

The Celtics open their season tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.