WALTHAM — The Celtics haven’t had a legitimate, productive starting center since trading Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder nearly two years ago. And they can’t seem to keep centers healthy.
Chris Wilcox, who played some solid minutes off the bench, could miss a month with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, according to coach Doc Rivers. Wilcox injured the thumb in Tuesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls while bracing his fall after taking a charge.
The Celtics now have one legitimate center on the roster — Jason Collins, meaning they are likely in search of a replacement with an open roster spot. An NBA source told the Globe earlier this month that longtime veteran Erick Dampier was on their radar.
Rivers said 2012 first-round pick Fab Melo is not a candidate to be called up despite blocking an NBADL record 14 shots for Maine Saturday against Erie.
“Chris is out; he’s out for a while,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how long (but) the first report I got was three to four weeks. He’ll be out.”
When asked about Melo, Rivers said: “I can tell you I talked to Fab as in ‘How you doing?’ I haven’t talked to anyone that thinks he’s ready to come up yet.”
Rivers admits the Celtics need another big man.
“You would think (we would sign someone),” he said. “But obviously that’s the one position where they don’t grow on trees. We just have to be patient. Obviously we need another big (man) with Chris being out. I don’t know if we’re going to get another big on this (four-game) trip.”
- Leandro Barbosa won’t be back with the team until the Dec. 27 game against the Los Angeles Clippers because of a personal matter. The Celtics will play Christmas Day in Brooklyn with 11 active players.
- Rivers would not rule out Avery Bradley returning before his Jan. 2 projected date or even playing Christmas against Brooklyn. “I think there’s a chance, but I don’t know what the chances are,” Rivers said. “Again, I haven’t talked to anybody. I mean the fact that he went through today’s practice games (and will practice tomorrow), but I don’t know. I just try to stay out of that. It’s close. I don’t want anyone to feeling like I am pressuring them. Avery wants to play. I guaranteed you he wants to play the next game.”
- Jeff Green participated in practice despite a bruised cheekbone and chipped teeth and said he will play Tuesday against Brooklyn