ATLANTA — Celtics coach Doc Rivers said last Thursday he did not expect Jermaine O’Neal to return to the team and he was right. O’Neal decided today to have season-ending surgery on his left wrist that will mean the end of his time as a Celtic.
O’Neal is finishing the second-year of a two-year, $12 million deal and considered getting a cortisone shot to help with the discomfort. But the team announced that doctors discovered a degenerative condition that was worsened when he landed on his wrist taking a charge from Dallas’ Dominique Jones on Feb. 20.
“Jermaine worked hard to get himself in condition to play this season despite his ongoing wrist issues,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “He played through pain the entire year and gave us all he could, but unfortunately after the fall against Dallas there simply wasn’t anything else he could do. We appreciate his contributions to our team over the last two years.”
Rivers expressed gratitude for O’Neal, who waited a month to make the decision.
“He tried to see if he could do it the other way besides surgery and he was smart enough to know that usually doesn’t work,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “He could have had surgery a month ago and shut it down but he tried to see what he could do to get back.”