It’s already clear that the Celtics will be shorthanded to start the season, and now they may be down another man for their first game of the year.
Center Tristan Thompson still hasn’t practiced yet due to a hamstring injury and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t know if he’ll be ready for the season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 23.
“I think that’s hard to say right now,” Stevens told reporters Saturday on whether Thompson will face the Bucks. “He’s not been in any part of practice yet. He’s done our pre-practice … 2-on-2, 3-on-3, very light, simulated reads work on both ends. So that’s it.”
Thompson was the Celtics’ biggest acquisition of the offseason, signing a two-year, $19 million deal to come to Boston. Because Thompson’s old team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, didn’t play in the NBA’s bubble, Thompson hasn’t played a game since March.
With the long layoff plus the injury, which Thompson suffered prior to training camp, Stevens said it will take time for Thompson to get acclimated.
“He hasn’t played in a long time,” Stevens said. “He didn’t play in the bubble, so there will be a ramp-up period for him whenever he is able to go live in practice, and I’m assuming it won’t be just one of those situations where you’re available one day and you get a good practice in and you can play. I think it’ll be a little more than that.”
Celtics star point guard Kemba Walker will miss the start of the season due to stem cell injection he received in his left knee. Walker has been doing individual workouts but isn’t participating in the smaller workouts that Thompson is doing, according to Stevens.
Rookie point guard Payton Pritchard is also injured. Stevens said Pritchard “had a finger pop out” in his left hand and hopes his return is “sooner rather than later.” The Celtics selected Pritchard with the No. 26 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
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