The Celtics announced late tonight that Jermaine O’Neal will not have left knee surgery and instead will rehabilitate for one month to strengthen the knee and then attempt to return. Team president Danny Ainge said that O’Neal may have returned too early from his six-week absence with a sore knee and at less than optimum shape.
“The wear and tear on the knee, he might have overdone it,” Ainge said just moments after the Celtics’ 86-82 win over the Detroit Pistons. “Wasn’t in as good of shape as he could have been, maybe came back a little too soon. All those things are possibilities. He got a second opinion from a doctor in New York and our medical staff feels like he should be back without restriction.”
O’Neal played in seven games for Boston before missing the next 19 with soreness in his left knee. He returned Christmas Day, began to blend into the team’s defensive system, and then again began experiencing soreness during the Jan. 10 loss to the Houston Rockets. He hasn’t played since.
O’Neal signed a two-year, $12 million contract in July and was expected to provide depth with Kendrick Perkins out with knee surgery. He has played in just 17 of Boston’s 41 games.
“He wants to play, but he doesn’t want keep disrupting the team coming in, coming out,” Ainge said. “He wants to be ready once and for all. So that’s why we’re saying four weeks.”