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Celtics on the lookout

Backup ‘3’ is No. 1 priority

DELONTE WEST To give it a go tonight DELONTE WEST
To give it a go tonight
By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 22, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO — The trade deadline is Thursday and the Celtics are working the phones trying to put a deal together to fill the void left by Marquis Daniels, who has been sidelined since Feb. 6 with a bruised spinal cord and likely could miss the rest of the season.

Daniels’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, has offered no updates on the guard’s recovery and coach Doc Rivers said the team doesn’t expect Daniels to return in the foreseeable future and with that the Celtics have begun to sift through possible trade options, knowing they don’t have many moveable pieces.

“We’re going to be active,’’ Rivers said, when asked about the looming trade deadline. “We aren’t going to do anything super, but we’re going to be active. We’re clearly looking. We don’t have a lot of assets to move.’’

The Celtics have expressed interest in Pistons shooter Richard Hamilton, and ESPN.com reported they talked to the Cavaliers about Anthony Parker. Rockets forward Shane Battier also could be on their radar.

But the only players who could entice other teams — Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis, who are both in contract years — are practically immovable as starting center and sixth man.

Lacking a legitimate reserve small forward to spell Paul Pierce, the Celtics are in a position where they have to make a move.

“Nothing happening and Marquis not coming back would be tough actually because of our size,’’ Rivers said. “We would have a huge gap at the ‘3’ spot, and when you look at who we have to go through — the Luol Dengs, the LeBrons, Kobes — that would make it tough.’’

Pierce scored 31 points in the Celtics’ win over the Nets in their last game before the All-Star break, but his right (shooting) hand had been nagging him, along with a foot he injured earlier in the month. He’s averaging 38 minutes this month, logging more minutes in Daniels’s absence, most noticeable the 40 he played in the win over the Heat Feb. 13.

“For me, I’m just trying to really make a conscious effort to focus on taking care of my body and making sure I’m strong going into the end of the season,’’ said Pierce. “The guys that we have, they have to be ready regardless of Marquis not being there. Von Wafer, this is an opportunity for him to step up.

“[The injuries] bothered me. It was just nagging the past few weeks . . . I’ve still got a little pain in my foot, but it’s getting a lot better.’’

The Celtics have been able to weather injury issues this season largely because their core three — Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett — has been relatively healthy. Rivers said minor ailments of players don’t give him much reason to be concerned, but the team needs another small forward to keep Pierce healthy.

“Paul’s history is he’s healthy,’’ Rivers said. “The bottom line is we need another 3. Whether Paul’s healthy or not, we need another one. We need Paul healthy, but Paul has to get some rest [because] we don’t have a guy that can guard the LeBrons of the world when Paul goes out. So we have to get a backup.’’

The Celtics are looking to have some of their banged-up bodies return from the break fresh.

Semih Erden (groin) and Delonte West (wrist) both practiced yesterday.

After breaking his wrist in November, West was scheduled to make his return last Wednesday against the Nets, but he bruised the wrist the day before, leading Rivers to keep him out. West let the wrist rest over the break and will attempt to play tonight against the Warriors.

“It feels better than it did since I tweaked it the other day,’’ West said.

“We tried some new things out today — a brace, some tape. We’ll see how it feels. I’m going to try to get on out there. It’s not a setback, it’s just a reminder that it’s not 100 percent yet. Pain has a way of reminding you.’’

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

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