Green plans to return stronger
Forward girds for surgery, recovery
MIAMI - Jeff Green, who recently was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm, said yesterday that he is more at ease now that the condition has been diagnosed, and that he is prepared to work hard after surgery to return to the NBA next season.
The forward, who talked to reporters for the first time since his diagnosis, will have surgery Jan. 9, and doctors have told him he can resume his career next season.
Green’s contract was voided by the Celtics, but he will remain a restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics will have the right to match any offer from another club.
Green has been around the team since his diagnosis and said it has been therapeutic.
“I’m very relieved, because I can play basketball again,’’ he said before the Celtics lost to the Heat, 115-107, last night at American Airlines Arena. “It’s a blessing that it was found because you never know what could happen.’’
Green jokes with the players, takes shots before practices, and has a stall in the locker room.
“It’s like therapy, man,’’ he said. “Being around the team really helps me relax. It takes my mind off of it because I don’t want to be sitting around in the house thinking about the whole thing. You can go crazy doing that.’’
Several NBA players have undergone aortic surgery and returned to play, such as free agent center Etan Thomas, Wizards center Ronny Turiaf, and Fred Hoiberg, now the Iowa State coach.
Green has talked with all three, “to get their thoughts on the whole procedure and try to see the things that might be ahead of me in the next couple of weeks.
“They’ve been through it and know what it takes to get back. It’s just something that I have to hear and get ready for.
“I’m in a good place right now. I know the whole procedure, and I know when I come back I will be stronger than ever and be a lot better.
“And when the doctors give me the go, I’m going to take it to another level.’’
Pierce out tonight
Paul Pierce (bruised right heel) was in full uniform in the locker room before last night’s game, as if he were going to give it a go. But coach Doc Rivers ruled him out of not only last night’s game but also tonight’s in New Orleans.
The Celtics’ next game is the home opener Friday night against the Pistons.
“He worked out yesterday and did some shooting today and he’s feeling better, no doubt about that, but he won’t play tomorrow either, I can probably safely say that,’’ Rivers said. “Then we’ll wait and see, and maybe the home opener.’’
Sasha Pavlovic started in place of Pierce against the Heat and showed life after a 0-point outing against the Knicks on Christmas Day.
He finished with 5 points on 2-for-4 shooting but once again was in foul trouble.
Rivers spent the past few days encouraging Pavlovic to take shots and not give the player he’s opposing a rest on defense.
When Pavlovic canned a 3-pointer in the first quarter last night, Rivers gave him encouragement when he came out.
Kevin Garnett was in the lineup, having avoided a suspension for his dustup with former Celtic Bill Walker Sunday. Rivers said he didn’t think Garnett should have been reprimanded for the postgame incident.
According to Rivers, no one noticed that Walker actually touched Garnett first, before Garnett responded with a shove near Walker’s neck area.
The video, said Rivers, “only shows Kevin’s reaction, so, no, I didn’t think he would [be suspended].
“I was amused by the attack on Kevin and nobody notices the other guy hits him on the shoulder. That’s what made him turn around.
“Kevin’s an instigator. I don’t mind. He is who he is. How old is he now? I am not going to change him.’’
Chris Wilcox played just nine minutes before leaving with a sprained left shoulder. X-rays were negative but he is not expected to play tonight . . . Newly signed Mickael Pietrus will wear No. 28, but it could be a while before he appears in a game. Rivers said Pietrus is about 10 days away from playing after a slow recovery from July knee surgery. But Pietrus did pass his physical and Rivers said Pietrus is in solid condition . . . The Celtics picked up two more technicals. Rivers boiled over arguing a plethora of non-calls on the Heat, and Rajon Rondo screamed at official Olandis Poole after a non-call following a layup. The Celtics have four technicals this season . . . Jermaine O’Neal looked lost at times, with no points and 1 rebound in 22 minutes. He said he needs to find his role in the offense.