The news comes via Bill Burt (a respected reporter and sports editor) of The Eagle Tribune: a small newspaper that covers northern Massachusetts and southern NH (h/t: Redsarmy)
Also keep in mind when reading this report that Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said this morning in an interview that Shaq would play if the Celtics face an elimination game this postseason. With that said, this is still worth digesting, even if it’s with a few grains of salt:
Shaquille O’Neal may have worn a Boston Celtics uniform for the last time.
In what would be a crippling blow to their chances of winning a title, the Celtics are going forward as if the affable center won’t be returning to team for the playoffs, according to an NBA source.
The Celtics came to this conclusion after Shaq failed to complete one simple sprint up and down the court during a “conditioning test” on Saturday, before he limped off the court in Waltham.
If he were to come back, it would have to be a miraculous recovery,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “And at his age (he turned 39 on March 6) and physical condition, the Celtics have planned accordingly.”
While Shaq has another year remaining in his contract, the source said retirement is all but a certainty after the numerous injuries this season.
Definitely some sobering news on the heels of a hard fought 2-0 series edge over the pesky Knicks. A few subtle thoughts on this report:
1) The NBA Source makes it pretty clear this is someone from pretty far outside the organization talking, as Grousbeck’s comment this morning shows.
2) We have seen this kind of talk with the Celtics before, a la Kevin Garnett in 2009 with his knee injury. Then and now, the team is probably quite aware of the worst case scenario for these players, (not returning in postseason) but it’s not really in their best interest to admit to that in the media, a reality I can’t blame them for.
3) I don’t expect the Celtics to give any validity to this report. They have been saying he’s day-to-day for awhile now, so for that to suddenly change after a day or two would be pretty farfetched.
With all that in mind, we’ll hear from Doc in the next hour or so, from Waltham, where the team is going over film (and hopefully some rebounding drills) in preparation for Game 3. We’ll have full coverage of his remarks when he gets asked the question for the 100th time about Shaq’s return, as well as further analysis about how far this squad can honestly go if Shaq’s big body won’t be clogging up the paint this postseason at some point for 20 minutes a game.