Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal traveled with the team to Houston Thursday for the start of a three-game road trip Friday night against the Rockets.
While O'Neal might not even return to game action this trip, it's an encouraging sign in his recovery from right foot injuries that have sidelined him since Feb. 1. According to the Celtics, the entire team made the trek, except for Jermaine O'Neal, who continues to work out on his own away from the team with eyes towards a return before the end of the regular season.
With the Celtics trekking to New Orleans on Saturday, Shaq clearly has motivation to return to his old stomping grounds. But making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI (850 AM) Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge noted Shaq's activity will ramp up with the trip.
No, that's not a photoshop. That's an actual photo of Shaquille O'Neal playing basketball for the Celtics. Yeah, I know. I almost forgot he actually played too. For a minute there, I thought he was just a giant goodwill ambassador visiting old folks' homes and children's museums.
They are doing all they can to make sure this guy is ready for the playoffs. And while I'm not thrilled with the current incarnation of our Boston Celtics, I'm less thrilled with the possibility that this will be the team we field in the playoffs.
So let Shaq return at his own pace. With Delonte back now, we're a little bit better than we were before. Maybe if the C's sit Rondo some more and let him rest whatever is bugging him (even if its his brain), we can be a step closer to getting that full-strength squad ready for the post-season.
And who knows… maybe Jermaine O'Neal will be back soon to help too.
Hey… stop laughing.
Related Links: WEEI: What the return of West and the O'Neals means for the Celtics | CSNNE: Shaq travels with Celtics, no timetable for return |
On Page 2: Danny's not worried… well… sorta not worried… well….
“Of course, you worry about whether you have time to get the chemistry right,” the general manager said yesterday as his lads were boarding a plane for Houston.
“I think we’re going to be fine, but you always have concerns. I think guys are going to get healthy, but will they get hurt two games back or three games back?
“And probably the biggest concern we have is that the teams we’re playing against are really good. Chicago, Miami and Orlando are really good teams, and we’re going to have to get through them to win our conference. But we can’t control that right now. All we can control at this point is getting healthy and playing better basketball. I’ve always said that being healthy and fresh is more important than anything else for us right now.”
My initial reaction, of course, is "well, if you're so concerned about the chemistry, then why did you bring five new players in with two months left in the season?"
But Green has shown he can be explosive off the bench and Krstic is proving to be a very good offensive player. Arroyo is a true back up point and Sasha and Murphy are…. well…. they're probably very nice guys.
And Danny's right… none of it matters if we're not healthy… which is what I was saying before. So if we can see the team get healthy plus have a couple of piece that are better than what we had before, then the C's will once again be seen as THE contenders in the East right now.
The issue just so happens to be that the C's are struggling at the moment and the Bulls have won eight in a row. So the C's have slipped to second and Bulls have surged to first. That's going to rattle some people.
Maybe it won't matter in the end. And if the C's are at full strength, it almost definitely won't.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: The Truth on Rondo | Rivers defends son's "Destroy LeBron" quote | Globe: Celtics piece it together | Happy 30th for Celtics tandem | ESPN Boston: Optimism and the O'Neals | WEEI: Arroyo truly honored to be a Celtic | Ainge on Big Show: C's issues are offensive | MWDN: Bench on the way back