By A. Sherrod Blakely
WALTHAM Throughout the playoffs, Jermaine O'Neal barely said a word.
We all knew he was battling injuries.
Who isn't in the playoffs?
But little did we know how serious his situation was for most of the Boston Celtics' playoff run.
O'Neal suffered a fracture in his left (shooting-hand) wrist in the Game 1 of Boston's first-round series with New York.
The injury occurred when O'Neal came down hard while taking a charge.
After the game, O'Neal had little to say about the injury.
And as the playoffs wore on, the loquacious O'Neal never mentioned the severity of the injury other than to acknowledge he was dealing with some soreness.
"He's sort of the quiet one through all this," said Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "Jermaine needs some pretty serious surgery on his left wrist."
Because he's left-handed, most of what he does as far as shooting, rebounding, blocking shots - he does it with his right hand.
In nine playoff games - all starts - he averaged 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 48.8 percent from the field which were better than his regular season averages in those respective categories.
The fractured wrist came on the heels of an injury-riddled regular season for O'Neal that included left knee surgery that sidelined him for several weeks.
It is unclear when he'll have surgery on his wrist or when it will heal in time for him to begin conditioning for next season which is in limbo for a couples.
O'Neal, who just completed his 15th NBA season, is thinking about retiring in order to spend more time with his family. If the NBA has a lockout as expected, O'Neal said he would more than likely return for the final year of his contract with the Celtics that pays 6.2 million next season.
"A shorter season would definitely be something I wouldn't mind having," O'Neal said. "But at some point, and soon, I'm going to walk away from the game. It would have been nice to have done it this year with a championship. But it just wasn't meant to be this year, I guess."
Ainge isn't sure exactly what the Celtics will be able to do in terms of the roster until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached between the players' union and the owners.
But he does know one thing the Celtics will be searching for this summer - players who can score the basketball.
"Scoring droughts have been a problem we've had the last couple years," Ainge said. "Our defense has been consistently good. But for whatever reasons, we've had too many scoring droughts at crucial times of the game and that hurt us."
While it's too soon for the Celtics to lock in on any particular player, you can expect the C's will at least inquire about upcoming free agents such as Atlanta's Jamal Crawford and Denver's J.R. Smith who are both considered among the top perimeter scorers in this class of free agents.
The Celtics are bracing themselves for a coaching vacancy - and no, it's not Doc Rivers.
It's lead assistant Lawrence Frank who is in the running for a number of head coaching jobs in the NBA, such as Houston and Golden State.
"He should be hired as a head coach," Ainge said. "My guess is he'll be hired as a head coach somewhere."