BOSTON (CBS) — Kemba Walker was cleared to practice last week and was reportedly set to return to the Celtics lineup as early as Friday night. But with COVID-19 issues postponing games and closing the team’s practice facility, that practice time with the team — and Walker’s return — have been put on hold.

Walker will not be making his season debut Friday when (if) the Celtics host the Orlando Magic. Instead, he’ll wait for his chance to get in some 5-on-5 work to make sure that he’s truly ready to return from the lingering knee issue that hampered him throughout last postseason.

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Walker wasn’t terrible during Boston’s playoff run in the Orlando bubble, but he clearly wasn’t the Kemba that NBA fans have grown to know over the last decade. He didn’t have his patented burst to the hoop, and his shot was way off. He admits that maybe he came back a bit too soon, and doesn’t want history to repeat itself this time around.

But the good news is that Walker said he’s feeling great, and it’s a different “feeling great” than what he felt ahead of his return in the NBA bubble.

“I’m definitely going to make the best decision for myself. Honestly, I’m feeling pretty good right now. I know I said I was feeling really good before the bubble, which I was, but the timing in between wasn’t really beneficial for me,” Walker explained over a Zoom call on Thursday. “But now, I am feeling really good and the way I feel now is different than the way I felt going into the bubble.

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“I’ve been able to take my time and really attack my rehab. I want to be healthy and stay healthy,” he said. “Whenever I’m feeling good and mentally ready to get out there, I will.”

Walker hasn’t been able to do much over the past week, but he was able to hit the court and get in some one-on-one work. It’s nothing like what he’ll experience in his return to NBA action, but he’s remaining patient with the process.

It hasn’t been easy for Walker to sit out the first 10 games of the season, but he’s been extremely impressed with what the team has been able to accomplish in his absence. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the charge, and Marcus Smart filling in as the team’s starting point guard, the Celtics are 7-3 on the season and sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel good about the team and loving the way they’re playing. Our two superstars, those guys have really been holding the fort down and absolutely killing it,” he said of Tatum and Brown. “Smart has been running the show the best he can, playing really well and I love his poise and overall attitude. Our young guys – Payton [Pritchard], Tremont [Waters], Carsen [Edwards], Grant [Williams] – when their names are called they’ve been playing really well and with a lot of energy. I’m hoping to come back and just add onto that and help with some leadership.

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“Hopefully I can just come back and bring that energy, that little extra spark,” he added. “It will be exciting.”