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Can I still use catkin init and catkin build when I can't install python-catkin-tools?

The straight answer to this would be no you cannot, seeing as python-catkin-tools provides the catkin program.

If it's not installed, you cannot run it.

However, the problem you show with python-catkin-tools not being installable is a known issue.

See catkin/catkin_tools#594 where this is being tracked.

Refer to #q353113 for a work-around (note: a workaround, this is not a solution).