Shaquille O'Neal (foot) out indefinitely

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Shaquille O'Neal (foot) out indefinitely

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MILWAUKEE The timetable for Shaquille O'Neal's return to the lineup has fluctuated about as much as the Boston Celtics' roster in recent weeks.

The C's roster is coming together, for sure.

O'Neal?

Not so much.

It seems just when one ailment is on the mend, another one flares up.

The right Achilles tendon injury that O'Neal suffered last month is healing fine, but now he's once again bothered by some right foot soreness.

Now it's to the point where the Celtics have no idea when the 7-foot-1 center, who turned 39 years old Sunday, will return to action.

When asked about O'Neal and a likely return date, coach Doc Rivers acknowledged he had no idea.

"O'Neal worked out with us the other day," Rivers said. "Some of the pain returned."

Rivers spoke with Ed Lacerte, the team's head trainer.

"Eddie just said don't expect him anytime soon," Rivers said.

The uncertainty surrounding O'Neal, who missed his 13th consecutive game Sunday, and his return to the floor is not a major issue right now.

Boston remains atop the Eastern Conference standings with 21 games remaining, holding a comfortable three-game lead over the second-place Bulls.

For the Celtics, the concern about O'Neal will be in April and May, which is when they'll need every healthy body available for the playoffs.

Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy have proven themselves as solid NBA players, but the C's will need more than Krstic and Murphy to bring home Banner 18.

Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery) is making progress, but there's no telling when he'll be back or how effective he'll be upon returning to the court.

And while there's still time for Shaquille O'Neal to return in time and be productive leading into the playoffs, having missed so many games makes it unlikely that he'll return and pick up immediately where he left off.

O'Neal has started 36 games for the Celtics, and is averaging 9.3 points and 4.9 rebounds while playing 20.7 minutes per game.

While the numbers are career-lows, they fail to show the impact he has had on the C's when healthy.

With O'Neal in the starting lineup, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were enjoying career seasons shooting the ball.

Coincidence?

They didn't think so.

"His presence commands so much attention," Allen told CSNNE.com recently. "With a player like that on the floor, it opens things up for so many of us in terms of getting good shot attempts."

Added Pierce: "He definitely makes my job and Ray's job a lot easier out there. We need the big fella, for sure."

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

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup