OFFSEASON

Celtics react to losing Shaq

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Celtics react to losing Shaq

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Kevin Garnett let out a sigh as he recalled watching Shaquille ONeal hobble off the court.

It wasnt what he wanted to witness, not after ONeal had worked so hard to come back after injuring his right Achilles in February.

That wasnt good to see, Garnett said following the Celtics 101-90 win over the Detroit Pistons. Hes been working his behind off to get back to this point (sighs). He had some momentum going, he definitely gave us a spark. It was good to see him out there.

If you know Shaq, you know hes always in lively spirits and to see him to go like that, it was tough.

ONeal played only 5 minutes and 29 seconds before exiting his first game back since February 1 in the second quarter. He scored six points during that span, a reminder of just how much of an impact he can make down low.

It was almost like a tease having him available for such a short stretch.

It was great. We had size, said Doc Rivers. You know, its amazing what size does.

The Celtics were encouraged, though, when ONeal was diagnosed with a right calf strain. There is no timetable for his return yet, but Rivers projects, I dont think very long, honestly.

Nonetheless, his teammates felt for their big man and hope a speedy recovery.

Its minor, said Garnett. Hes a huge dude. Hopefully he can bounce back from this, but leg injuries are not easy and were just hoping for the best at this point.

Paul Pierce felt for the 39-year-old, given his age and long list of injuries this season.

When you get to that age, those ones tend to hurt a little bit longer, Pierce said. Its tough. Hes been out so long. He tried to do it today without any chance to have any practices. I just hope hes all right. I dont really the know the extent of whats going on, but hes been out so long, resting, trying to get his injuries together, and its very disappointing. He comes out, especially after being out so long, to come down with another injury.

Jermaine ONeal, who recently came back from his own injury, was optimistic for his fellow center. He hopes that Shaqs upbeat attitude was an indication of a quick return.

He seemed to be in good spirits when he left, he said. I think he may be back on there on Tuesday when the Celtics host the Sixers, well see. But he was laughing and joking. It was more of a scare, I think, for the guys on the team and the fans of the Celtics. But I think the lack of practice time hurt him - because he hasnt had the ability to practice, he was kind of on the fly so he wasnt able to test a lot of things - so today he kind of tweaked it. Hopefully for us, we can get him back sooner because he got off to a great start.

As for Glen Davis, he is certain hell be seeing ONeal back on the court sooner rather than later.

Hell be okay. Shaqs always going to be all right. Shaq dont get hurt, Davis said. Shaqs invincible. Thats what I believe in. Hell be back. Hes all steel - man of steel. Thats what Ive believing since I was a little kid.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

OFFSEASON

Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

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Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.