After going through examinations with Celtics team doctor Brian McKeon, Jermaine O’Neal learned that it would be in his best interest to have surgery on the swollen left knee that’s cause him to miss 21 games already this season. He will visit a doctor in New York on Monday to get a second opinion, and may even call a third doctor in Miami before ultimately deciding whether to go through with the procedure Tuesday night.
The decision hinges on whether the procedure will end his season. At this point, O’Neal is under the impression that if he had surgery next week, he wouldn’t be able to return to the floor until the end of the regular season. If that turns out to be the case after he sees the doctor on Monday, O’Neal will then consider whether it’s worth it to play on with the knee swelling every so often.
“I didn’t foresee this happening,” said O’Neal, who was signed by the Celtics in the offseason for the mid-level exception after playing 72 games for the Miami Heat a year ago. “I think the decision of either being in [the lineup] or having surgery is really going to come down to “Does the surgery put me clear from the injury?” If it doesn’t put me clear from the injury then I might as well play. That’s what it’s going to boil down to. Does it put me at a point where I can just go once I’m back on the court, or am I going to — two, three weeks later — back in the same position.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers agreed with O’Neal getting another opinion, and is more or less assuming that an operation would end O’Neal’s season.
“I think it’s the right course of action,” Rivers said. “Because, listen, surgery could mean never playing again. You never know that. So he’s trying to figure out a way and we’re trying to figure out a way with Dr. McKeon and everybody how we can get him on the floor.
“Even if it’s got to be, at the worst case scenario, the way it’s been where he plays four or five games and has to sit out. If the news comes back that surgery means two months or more, then that’s basically it.”