New Celtics point guard Kemba Walker wants to win — and he’s hopeful that can happen in Boston.
“I’m not going to say that’s going to happen here because you just don’t know,” Walker said Wednesday after his introductory press conference at the Auerbach Center. “I can’t see the future or anything like that, but I want to win. I want to be on a team that goes out and competes every night on a high level. Watching Boston over the years, man, that’s just what they’ve done.”
At age 29, Walker has reached the postseason twice in his eight-year career only to experience first-round exits both times. During his time in Charlotte, which began with a rookie season in which the team notched only seven victories, the three-time All-Star tasted losing more than winning. The Hornets finished with a 263-377 overall record during Walker’s tenure.
Now, after signing a four-year, $141 million contract with the Celtics, he’s never been better poised to contend for an NBA title.
“Throughout my basketball career as a pro, I haven’t won consistently,” Walker said. “I thought this was the best place for me to do that.”
“I think he’s at that stage in his life where that’s all that matters,” added president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “Kemba’s accomplished a lot of things individually. He just really hasn’t been able to accomplish team goals that he aspires since winning a national championship in college.”
Walker’s arrival is perhaps the centerpiece of the franchise’s effort to retool following the departure of five rotation players, including point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Al Horford. The roster may not yet be set — an open spot remains unfilled — but Walker is excited by his new teammates.
He’s already familiar with a handful of them, having visited Paris earlier this summer with Jayson Tatum as Jordan Brand athletes and Johannesburg two years ago with Jaylen Brown as part of the NBA Africa game. Walker described himself as someone who’s “easy to get along with” and who “[leads] by example.”
On the court, Walker said he thinks his skills can open opportunities for others because he likes to get in the lane and subsequently draw a lot of attention. He’s only played for coach Brad Stevens once — at the 2017 All-Star Game — but from afar, he’s already noticed a cornerstone of Stevens’s system: “Point guards are very successful and score a lot.”
Walker and Stevens have already begun building their bond, noting there’s nothing more important to him than having a great relationship with his head coach. The pair watched film together Tuesday night.
“He loves basketball,” Walker said. “Like, that’s all he talks about. He talks a lot about basketball. He just loves the game. I think I’m pretty intrigued by that. Your head coach, he has to love the game. He has to set the tone for the players. I just think that’s how it has to be.”
So, how will things play out once the season starts? Walker is optimistic.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be better,” Walker said. “I can’t tell the future. But we have a really good team. A bunch of young guys who are very talented, who I’m looking forward to playing with. Do I think we can be good? Yeah, I do. I think I would be a huge part of that.”