Not much has gone right for the Boston Celtics in 2020-21.
Between their inconsistent play, issues staying healthy both on the court and as it relates to the league’s ongoing COVID-19 issues, Danny Ainge has been honest about his team’s championship aspirations as they sit at a frustrating 15-15 through their first 30 games of the season.
But according to NBA insider Ric Bucher, who made an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s podcast, Ainge’s issues began long before that, with an unsuccessful attempt to trade point guard Kemba Walker.
“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba at the beginning of the year knowing that his knee wasn’t right,” said Bucher. “[Ainge] was trying to get rid of damaged goods. And that’s the issue that Kemba is dealing with, and at his size, it’s a little bit like Isaiah Thomas.”
The fact that nobody bit on trading for Walker, who was one year into a four-year deal worth $141 million, is hardly a surprise. Dealing with a knee issue even before the pandemic paused the 2019-20 regular season, Walker’s issues didn’t get any better in the summer restart, as the 30-year-old dealt with obvious physical limitations throughout the 2020 postseason in the Orlando bubble.
Walker, who was not traded in the offseason despite Ainge’s reported attempts (and the Celtics’ seemingly aggressive pursuits of some of the trade market’s top talents), then received a stem cell injection in his aching knee, and made his return to the Boston lineup on Jan. 17.
Walker is averaging 17 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.6 rebounds through his first 15 games of the season, and his 37.1 field goal percentage out of the gate is his second-worst percentage of his career, just 0.5 better than his 36.6 field goal percentage during the 2011-12 season.
The Celtics will continue their road trip with a head-to-head with the Mavericks on Tuesday night.