First it was Jeff Green. Then came Chris Wilcox. Now the least surprising of Boston’s season-ending injuries is upon us. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald tweets that Jermaine O’Neal will have surgery on his injured wrist and miss the remainder of the season. It seems likely that O’Neal will choose to retire on the back of this latest injury as his body seems incapable of holding up to the rigors of an NBA season.
This is no surprise to the Celtics. O’Neal has proven unreliable and borderline inscrutable in terms of his rehabilitation preferences since he’s been in Boston. Doc Rivers’ comments the last couple of weeks echo those he made early in the 2010-11 season, when his frustration with O’Neal boiled over onto the public record. From day one, Rivers never seemed to trust O’Neal would be there for the Celtics when the chips were down.
To be fair, O’Neal was brought in as a backup to Shaquille O’Neal last season with a prospective third-center role awaiting had Kendrick Perkins been healthy and on the roster come playoff time. But Shaq went down, Perk was traded and Danny Ainge was unable to find legitimate big man help in December, which left O’Neal in far too prominent a role for a team with title aspirations. He failed, yes, but he didn’t offer himself that MLE contract, nor is he responsible for the lack of quality pivot men on the roster.
The Celtics remain in the market for big men to fill out the roster with a decision to be made by March 23, the deadline for playoff eligibility.