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Celtics notebook

Surgery not in the cards

Jermaine O’Neal to rehab for month

Kevin Garnett is fouled after grabbing a rebound on a Detroit miss with 16.6 seconds left. Kevin Garnett is fouled after grabbing a rebound on a Detroit miss with 16.6 seconds left. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / January 20, 2011

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Having spent most of the past week weighing whether to have surgery to ease the swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, center Jermaine O’Neal met with team president Danny Ainge last night during the Celtics’ 86-82 win over the Pistons and decided against having any procedure.

Instead, the 13-year veteran will sit out four weeks, strengthening the knee in hopes of returning and finishing out the year.

“This is a good option,’’ Ainge said. “I think he feels like if he gets himself in better shape, and [gets] the strength, then he’ll be ready to give us an effort that we haven’t seen this year out of him.’’

O’Neal already has missed 26 games because of injury. After the first time the knee swelled, in Dallas Nov. 8, he missed nearly six weeks. He returned on Christmas Day, but lasted just two weeks before the knee flared up again, leading him to consider surgery.

His concern was that any operation likely would cause him to miss the remainder of the season. But Ainge said the surgery wouldn’t have been more than “a cleaning out.’’

“There’s not ligament or cartilage damage,’’ Ainge said. “It was a cleaning-out process. We decided against that; we’ll take the next four weeks to do nothing but work to build up his glutes and quads, with the sole purpose of that. So he’ll be rehabbing to build strength in his leg to get ready for the end of the season.’’

Had O’Neal gone through with the procedure, Ainge said, it was most likely he would have missed up to eight weeks. With this option, in a month the Celtics expect O’Neal to be able to contribute without any restrictions.

“I would say the purpose is to get him ready to play in late-season and postseason play, with no restrictions,’’ Ainge said. “I mean, his first night there might be, but the purpose is to get him back 100 percent.’’

The chance that the swelling could persist once O’Neal returns still looms. Ainge said O’Neal’s most recent troubles may have occurred because he came back prematurely. But he is confident that this is the best course of action.

“I mean, there’s no guarantee, but I think the wear and tear on the knee, he might have overdone it — he wasn’t in as good a shape as he could have been, maybe came back a little too soon,’’ Ainge said. “But he got a second opinion from a doctor in New York and our medical staff thinks that he should be back without restriction.’’

West progressing Delonte West had X-rays Monday and saw a hand specialist, who cleared him to work out without a brace.

He since has dribbled the basketball with his right (non-shooting) hand, although he has been reluctant to catch passes with it just yet.

“I’m still a little timid, but I’m getting there,’’ West said. “As far as dribbling and doing whatever I can with the right hand, I’m permitted to do that.’’

West has missed 26 games because of the injury but expects to return to practice in two to three weeks. He has a CT scan scheduled for Tuesday.

“Everything’s on schedule,’’ West said. “As far as dealing with the pain and the rotation, I’m actually ahead of schedule. I’m happy about the progress.’’

Garnett responding Kevin Garnett said his body responded well two days after returning from the right calf strain that kept him out of the lineup for nine games. “I was a little anxious tonight,’’ Garnett said. “I really, really knew the ball was going to come to me a lot, just need to take my time.’’ He played 29 minutes, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds . . . Marquis Daniels left in the second quarter after tweaking his left ankle and never returned. He said he would ice the ankle and keep it elevated and expects to play tomorrow against the Jazz . . . After Monday’s game, Magic general manager Otis Smith took a jab at the Celtics, saying, “They act tough. They’re not really tough. They act tough.’’ The Celtics didn’t make much of the comments. “It doesn’t matter,’’ Ray Allen said. “That psychological stuff, we know who we are.’’

Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.

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