OFFSEASON

Shaq may not return until playoffs

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Shaq may not return until playoffs

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SAN ANTONIO The Boston Celtics are starting to get worried that Shaquille O'Neal's sabbatical from the game to deal with an assortment of right footlegAchilles tendon continues to take longer than expected.

While the goal is to have him suit up before the playoffs, Celtics coach Doc Rivers acknowledged on Thursday that the team has no definitive idea as to when the 7-foot-1 center will be back.

"I really hope we can get him before the playoffs," said Rivers, who added that the injury is starting to "get close to bleeding" into the team's postseason plans.

While the C's maintain there hasn't been any setback -- in fact, Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told WEEI soon after Rivers spoke that O'Neal would be back Sunday or Tuesday of next week -- they do say it has taken longer to heal than anticipated. (Isn't that a setback?)

There will certainly be an adjustment period when he does return, whenever that may be.

Still, there are certain positives that O'Neal brings to the floor that trump whatever adjustments he needs to make in terms of Xs and Os.

"The good thing with him is that he's still big and strong," Rivers said. "But not playing until the playoffs would be difficult."

And because of O'Neal's role with the team, the C's aren't banking on him to be a dominate presence for extended periods of time.

"The thing is, it's not like he's a focal point offensively," Rivers said. "Defensively, he does what he does. His size is a factor. But you still have to know all the sets offensively and defensively for the other guys to run stuff."

His size. His strength.

Rivers has a good handle on those things.

But it is the unknown - when will O'Neal return - that he admits presents yet another hurdle for the Celtics moving forward.

"I just don't know because I've never had this situation," Rivers said. "It's getting to become a challenge. It wasn't before, because I just viewed it as a regular-season injury. Now it's starting to get close to bleeding into playoffs. Now that becomes a challenge."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

OFFSEASON

Who will make the Celtics roster?

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Who will make the Celtics roster?

BOSTON – Regardless of what the Celtics do in the offseason, there will always be position battles in training camp.

But when the players arrive in a few weeks, a handful will have more at stake than just a roster spot.

Boston currently has 18 players with full or partially guaranteed contracts, a number that has to be pared down to 15 or less by the time the regular season begins.

The math is pretty cut and dry. Barring a trade, at least three players have to be let go.

But who will they be?

That’s for Brad Stevens and the rest of the Celtics brass to figure out.

In the meantime, here’s a look at five Celtics who, barring a trade, are likely to be among the pool of players Boston will be picking from for what should be the last couple of roster spots.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET