ORLANDO — Chris Wilcox confirmed Friday afternoon that he will return to the Celtics after having his 2011-12 season ended prematurely by an enlarged aorta.
Wilcox had surgery to repair the issue and is beginning basketball activities. Expected to serve as a backup at forward and center, Wilcox agreed to a 1-year deal believed to be at the league’s minimum.
“I am just excited and ready to get out there on the court,” he said. “I’m ready, just training now and trying to get my body back right, where I can help. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off.”
Wilcox was plagued by injuries early in his first season with the Celtics but then found a niche as a reserve sparkplug off the bench, throwing down alley-oops from Rajon Rondo and giving the club energy with his rebounding. He averaged 7 points and 5.4 rebounds over a 17-game stretch before a heart exam detected the abnormality in March and he was required to have surgery later that month.
WIlcox said he has been given full clearance to return to the NBA and always had targeted a return to Boston. He attended two Celtics games following his surgery.
“It’s going to be a big year for me and a big year for the team,” he said. “I think I’m ready for it. Like I said, just trying to get into basketball shape. It will be good for me, at the same time Jeff (Green) will be back so I think it will be a great opportunity for me and just to come back and try to pick up where I left off.”
Wilcox had been told in previous years that aorta issues could develop but it did not surface until his 10th NBA season. Like Green, who underwent surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, Wilcox feared he may never play in the NBA again.
“I think it’s a blessing to have the surgery like we did and be able to come back in the same year,” he said. “That’s just God working in our favor. I thank Boston for giving me the opportunity to come back. I just got to take advantage of the situation and hopefully things will work out.”
Wilcox said he will continue to workout in Houston this summer and should be ready to fully participate in training camp.