By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON The decision has been made.
Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, confirmed an earlier report from Comcast SportsNet's Greg Dickerson that Jermaine O'Neal will not have surgery on his left knee.
Instead, the C's will shut O'Neal down for the next four weeks, and then look to bring him back in the fold.
Ainge, O'Neal and the C's medical staff discussed all the different options at halftime of Boston's 86-82 win over Detroit.
"The surgery he was considering, was just a cleaning out," Ainge said. "There's no ligament or cartilage damage that was going to be repaired. It was a cleaning-out process. We decided against that."
Had they opted for the surgery, Ainge said O'Neal would have been looking at being out for about two months.
Even after four weeks of rest, that doesn't necessarily mean O'Neal immediately returns to the Celtics playing rotation.
Kendrick Perkins will be back in the rotation by then.
If Shaquille O'Neal stays healthy, there is a chance that Jermaine O'Neal can return to a Celtics squad that, in many ways, has moved on without him.
Still, the Celtics have proven all season that there really is no such thing as having too many big men.
The Celtics still don't know how much they'll get out of Perkins when he returns. Shaquille O'Neal, who had his first double-double with the Celtics on Wednesday with 12 points and 12 rebounds, has had his share of bumps and bruises, which is what you expect from the oldest player in the NBA. Even the C's young bigs, like rookie Semih Erden, has been hit with the injury bug.
"We're going to need all these guys to get through the year and the playoffs," Ainge said.
When Jermaine O'Neal does return, Ainge added that he will not have a minutes restriction.
His conditioning, maybe more than anything else, will dictate how much he can play.
"When you're out with a bad knee, it's tough to condition basketball-wise," Ainge said. "He was on the treadmill, the non-bearing weight treadmills and in the swimming pool and a lot of things like that. Jermaine has a plan to get himself in great shape and build the strength up so he can withstand the rigors of playing the last couple months of basketball."
O'Neal went to New York to get a second opinion.
But before that, it appeared as though he was leaning toward not having the surgery and instead, going with the plan that he and the Celtics agreed to on Wednesday.
"It's almost a shock to the system," O'Neal said. "There is a chance that you may not come back. There's a chance that it might not go as well as you want it to go. A lot of different things can happen when you go through surgery. At the end of the day, you have to live with the decision you make. To me, it's all about playing. I just want to play; I just want to help."