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Celtics Notebook

As former Celtic Kemba Walker latches on in Dallas, his old coaches are pulling for him

Kemba Walker is back in the NBA, signing with the Mavericks Monday.Jared C. Tilton/Getty

Hornets coach Steve Clifford helped former Celtics point guard Kemba Walker emerge as an All-Star during Clifford’s first stint in Charlotte. Prior to facing the Celtics on Monday night, Clifford said he took some responsibility for Walker’s struggles with injuries in recent years.

“He was never worried about load or minutes,” Clifford said. “One of the reasons I feel bad — I’ve told him this a couple of times — is I might have taken a year or two off his career. There were many times in those games where he would always play the whole third quarter and then [if] it was close he played the whole fourth quarter. And that takes its toll.


“So that I feel somewhat responsible for. But there are not many guys in this league like him. He’s a guy to cheer for.”

Clifford said he was thrilled that his former pupil will soon be getting another chance. According to multiple reports, Walker has agreed to a deal with the Dallas Mavericks.

Walker, 32, signed a four-year, maximum-salary deal with the Celtics in 2019 as Kyrie Irving’s replacement. He made the All-Star team that year but struggled with knee pain over the second half of that season as well as the following one.

In June 2021, the Celtics traded Walker to the Thunder in the deal that brought Al Horford back to Boston. He eventually agreed to a buyout and signed with the Knicks, but by midseason he had fallen out of New York’s rotation.

This summer the Knicks traded Walker to the Pistons in a salary-clearing move, and he later agreed to a buyout with Detroit, too. Now he’s hoping to reignite his career as one of Luka Doncic’s backups.

“Very excited,” said Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who worked extensively with Walker during his time in Boston. “I’m really happy for him. I know he’s been working hard. He’s a great person, more than basketball. He deserves it as a person and a player, so I’m really happy for him.”


On the shelf

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (neck stiffness) and center Al Horford (back stiffness) missed Monday’s game against the Hornets. Forward Jayson Tatum returned after missing Sunday’s win over the Wizards with ankle soreness. Veteran Blake Griffin started in place of Horford.

Jayson Tatum, who returned to the lineup after a night off, shares a moment with his son Deuce during pregame warmups Monday at TD Garden.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Hornets were even more shorthanded, missing former Celtics Gordon Hayward (shoulder) and Terry Rozier (illness), as well as guard LaMelo Ball (ankle), guard Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle). and forward Cody Martin (knee).

Community honors

Celtics guard Marcus Smart won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for October. He was recognized for his support of pediatric cancer patients, and his commitment to creating access for inner-city student-athletes.

In addition to visiting patients at Boston Children’s Hospital, Smart has donated mobile charging stations called “Smart Carts” that include tablets and video game consoles.

Earlier this month, Smart raised more than $200,000 for his YoungGameChanger Foundation at his annual charity bowling event. The NBA donated $10,000 to Smart’s foundation Monday as part of his award.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.