Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, who has missed 14 games this season, is still bothered by an ailing knee and hasn’t been allowed to work out on back-to-back days during training camp for the resumption of the NBA season. Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The Celtics continue to follow a patient, slow plan with Kemba Walker’s return to action.

For now, it sounds a lot like the regular season, when rest and maintenance for the point guard’s balky left knee was a focus after the All-Star break.

As such, Walker is on what Coach Brad Stevens calls a one-day on, one-day off schedule, with him missing Wednesday’s practice. Instead, Walker ran through an intense session on Tuesday when the rest of the team was off.

“He did a lot of running yesterday, shooting,” said Stevens. “He’s shooting a little bit right now. He’s reacted great, his knee feels good, and that’s a good thing. He’s really prioritizing accumulating strength in that knee, so the day-on, day-off thing will be in effect for awhile.”

Stevens emphasized the general sense of good feeling in Walker’s knee, though he admitted that it was only after the team reassembled in the Auerbach Center and Walker reported some discomfort that his current reacclimation plan was formulated.

“Again, it wasn’t anything major. I understand why the questions are about him,” said Stevens. “We feel good about progress he’s made, we feel good about the fact he’s having no pain, we feel good about the fact he’s accumulating strength. Strength is the number one thing.”

With a grueling schedule ahead (the eight-game seeding period followed directly by the postseason), the Celtics are taking no chances with Walker in training and are focused on having him available when it counts.

“We’ve got to make sure he feels as good as possible, because the toll, the physical toll of playing these seeding games and the playoffs, especially when you go every other day for the most part, is going to be significant on guys who are playing major minutes, so that’s a huge part of it,” Stevens said. “Any discomfort early, our training staff put a plan in place, and I’m just following it. Whatever’s best for Kemba is obviously best for us.”

Developing depth is also what’s best for the team at this point, before games resume. Expect, as always, to see a lot of Brad Wanamaker and this year’s G-League rookie of the year, Tremont Waters.

“Our primary ballhandler when Kemba is out will be (Marcus) Smart,” said Stevens. “We’ve got good ball handlers through the roster. (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward) are more than capable of getting us into offense, and very good at it.

“We’ve tried to design a style of play this year that was interchangeable for our four wings on the court together,” he said. “And we have good guys in Wanamaker and Waters who can come in and also do that for us. Ball handling is really important, not turning the ball over is really important. We have a number of guys who value possessions and value the ball and are capable of making plays with the ball.

“We’re not as explosive an offensive team without Kemba, but we do have a lot of really good offensive players. When he’s not available in practice, we’ll have to focus our best actions for others. But every indication is he’ll be available when we’re playing games.”

All concerned are certainly looking for a chance to run the offense.

“I’m not here to replace Kemba. I’m just here to fill in when I can,” said Wanamaker. “Obviously everybody knows what he brings to our team, about what he’s capable of doing. Obviously my role will change a little bit but I feel like if I stay within myself (I can) create for other guys that are out there on the court.”

Said Smart: “”My approach has always been, my whole career, even more than ever this year, is just to go out there and control the game. I got the ball in my hands, it starts with me and I need to make sure that I bring energy from the start to finish. And those guys will follow.”

PELICANS: Top overall draft choice Zion Williamson left the club on Thursday to attend to an urgent family medical matter.

The Pelicans say Williamson intends to rejoin the team for the resumption of the season, but they did not specify when he would be able to return or whether he’ll miss any games.

Williamson will have to quarantine again when he returns to the Orlando area, a period that will last at least four days and could be significantly longer if he is not tested daily during his absence from the team.

“Once we learn more about Zion’s specific circumstances, we will determine his reentry protocol based on our rules,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.

The Pelicans resume the season on July 30 against Utah.

“We fully support Zion’s decision to leave the NBA campus to be with his family,” Pelicans Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “Out of respect for the Williamson family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Williamson has averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 19 games this season after missing the first 44 games while recovering from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery.

ROCKETS: NBA scoring leader James Harden practiced with his team for the first time in more than four months, saying his arrival at the league’s restart bubble was delayed by family issues.

Harden came to Disney earlier this week, satisfied his league-mandated quarantine requirements and was cleared to participate.

“I’m happy I’m here,” Harden said. “It felt actually really, really good to be out here with the guys, getting after it, just pushing our way. Every single day is going to be a new challenge for us.”

Harden has been working out, but said Thursday was his first time playing actual 5-on-5, contact-laden basketball in more than a month.

“I pushed myself through it today,” Harden said.

Harden’s arrival means Houston finally has half of its starting backcourt at Disney. On Monday, guard Russell Westbrook revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19.


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