That sound you just heard may have been the Boston Celtics window of opportunity closing just a bit more; as the “Boston Herald” reported Monday evening that the Celtics will carry on for the rest of the campaign without veteran starting center Jermaine O’Neal who will undergo season ending surgery to repair his left wrist. The surgery almost certainly will mark the end of his time in a Celtics uniform, after being on the squad for an injury plagued two-years; and could convince him to retire from the Association after 16 years.
The team announced the news before taking to the court to take on the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. O’Neal has not been on the hardwood since he re-injured his left wrist in a game against the Dallas Mavericks on February 20. Hoping that the pain would decrease, the veteran tried to go the conservative route of rest and rehab, before deciding to go ahead with the surgery.
Celtics President Of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge released a statement, about the loss of their veteran big man. Ainge said “Jermaine worked hard to get himself in condition to play this season despite his ongoing wrist issues. He played through pain the entire year and gave us all he could, but unfortunately after the fall against Dallas there simply wasn’t anything else he could do. We appreciate his contributions to our team over the last two years.”
Although O’Neal has not mentioned retirement, the message he left on his Twitter account after the announcement, read as if he were preparing to hang up his sneakers for good. The center wrote “I’m not sure what my basketball future is, but I want to thank the cities of portland, indiana, miami, toronto, and boston for 16great years.”
Boston lost big man Chris Wilcox to season ending surgery earlier this month, as he had open heart surgery to repair an aorta. The club’s starting lineup has been composed of three forwards with Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett who has matched up against opponent’s centers. The Celtics have hoped that the New Orleans Hornets would release veteran center Chris Kaman; however that move has yet to occur. Ainge is currently exploring other options, including players from the NBDL.