After a furious stretch in late December that saw him re-establish his importance for the New York Knicks, Kemba Walker has now fallen back to earth with his recent slump. The 31-year-old veteran has now spoken out about his current stature with the team and it sounds like Walker is keeping his head down throughout all this.
Walker admitted that he’s still adjusting to life with the Knicks after joining the squad in the offseason. He was one of the top options on offense during his two-year stint with the Boston Celtics but now that he’s in New York, things have changed drastically. Walker has seen his role with the squad diminished significantly and it has not been easy for him at all:
“We do have a lot of guys who can score the basketball. And we don’t play through me,” Walker said, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “So I’m just kind of out there – I’m the one playing off these guys. I’m playing off these guys. So I’m waiting for my opportunities. And I’m still learning where to be aggressive and things of that nature on this team. I can’t say it enough, it’s different. It’s just different for me.”
Not only has Walker conceded his role as the team’s primary option on the offensive end — something that he thrived in earlier in his career during his eight-year spell with the Charlotte Hornets — but now that he’s with the Knicks, the four-time All-Star has completely fallen out of head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.
“It’s pretty difficult,” Walker said. “It’s just so different. I’m in a whole different position and role. But yeah, that’s on me to learn how to play with guys and learn when to get my shots and it’s just taking more time than what I’d like.”
Back in December, not long after it was announced that Walker was no longer going to be part of the rotation, the 6-foot point guard found himself with another opportunity to prove his worth. Injuries and COVID decimated New York’s lineup, and for his part, Kemba took full advantage of the chance he was given. During his six-game hot streak, Walker averaged 22.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.0 assists, while also connecting on 4.0 triples per game on a 40.0-percent clip.
Walker himself admitted that the circumstances were much different then than it is today. With the Knicks healthy again, Walker has once again resumed his role as a fringe player on the rotation.
“Nobody was on the court with me really. I don’t want to say nobody. But guys had COVID. I was out there playing a lot,” Walker said. “The ball was running through me. It was different. That’s not the case right now. I’m not saying that in a negative way. It just is what it is.”
Unfortunately for Kemba Walker, this is the reality he is living in right now. He’s no longer the dominant superstar he once was. At this point, he has no other choice but to accept his fate and to make the most out of his current predicament:
“I just go through it myself and learn myself,” he said. “It can be difficult at times but at the end of the day, it’s just a new challenge for me. Which is fine. I’ll find my way.”
When asked if he feels frustrated with his how things have panned out in New York, Walker had a simple answer: “Umm. It is what it is.” He could not have said it more perfectly.