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Kemba Walker Nico Harrison Mavericks

(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Mavericks GM Nico Harrison on Kemba Walker’s knees: ‘It’s not good.’

Kemba Walker Nico Harrison Mavericks
(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Mavericks GM Nico Harrison on Kemba Walker’s knee: ‘It’s not good.’

On Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks, who have fallen below .500 at 10-11, officially signed point guard Kemba Walker to assist the playmaking responsibility behind Luka Doncic. Walker, who had yet to sign with a team prior to joining Dallas, is still recovering from left knee issues that have plagued him for the last several seasons. Thus, his timetable to return is unknown. But during a radio appearance in Dallas, Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison was brutally honest about his thoughts on Walker’s knee.

“It’s not good,” Harrison said. “It’s not good at all. But he’s rehabbed it and it’s the best he’s felt in the last two years so, we’ll see how long that lasts.”

Those are very interesting comments by the man who signed him mere days ago. It’s not like Walker’s knee issues are new, because they’re not by any means, but was the current condition of Walker’s knee recently discovered after signing him? Or was due diligence done beforehand? I have questions.

Walker’s contract is inexpensive, so it’s not a complete detriment if he’s unable to suit up. He signed for a one-year minimum contract ($1.4M cap hit) that’s non-guaranteed; it becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster on Jan. 10.

“(His knee) hasn’t been good for a few years,” Harrison said. “Even last year, he had 30-point games on it, but it feels better now. The reality is, it’s not good, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play on it.”

Walker appeared in 37 games with the New York Knicks last year, getting shutdown midseason after his knee issues were ailing him yet again. Heading into 2022-23, Walker’s unfortunately played in just 62.9 percent of his team’s available games (playoffs included) since the start of the 2019-20 season, including just 52.2 percent of them over the last two seasons.

“I don’t think there’s any expectations, really. One, I hope his body holds up,” Harrison told The Dallas Morning News Mavericks reporter Callie Caplan earlier this week. “I think that’s the first and foremost thing. I hope his body holds up. If it does, he’s a veteran guy. One, he’s an amazing person — I think that’s the point. He’s an amazing person. He’s been through everything in the league. He obviously can handle the ball and everybody knows he’s an ex-All-Star. I won’t even say ex-All-Star. He’s an All-Star. He’s a scorer. Adding that veteran presence for if and when we need it ready will be helpful.”

Find the full quotes here.

Walker’s never been an efficient shot creator, but he’s capable — when completely healthy with enough game reps — of taking the burden off Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie. But there hasn’t been enough evidence to suggest his knee still wouldn’t bother him and possibily limit his production, even in 15-20 minutes per night over a 30-40-plus game stretch.

It’s not completely inconceivable that Dallas brought him in simply for rehab. Perhaps they have a plan in-place to help rehabilitate Walker’s knee to near 100 percent (I don’t think it’ll ever get back to 100 percent because of how bad it’s been). He’s had two surgeries on it — in consecutive years in 2014-15 and 2015-16 — to repair his knees, but maybe something’s cooking in Dallas that Walker’s team couldn’t find elsewhere.

“I feel really good,” Walker said, via FanNation’s Grant Afseth. “Not just saying that. I know I haven’t played in a while. … I feel as good as I’ve felt in a very long time. I waited, took my time and made sure I felt better before I really started ramping myself up.”

***

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