Celtics  president Danny Ainge doesn’t like to give timelines on when injured players will return to the court and there’s a good reason for that: Things change.
Take Kevin Garnett , for example. Late last week Doc Rivers  suggested that Garnett would be back Monday or maybe Wednesday. That forecast no longer appears likely to materialize after the Celtics went through practice without Garnett on Tuesday.
“He’s just not ready yet,” Rivers said. “He’s close, very close. I think he wants to play, but I just don’t think he should play yet.”
That was probably the right call. Why take a chance in mid-January if you’re not 100 percent certain? But if he doesn’t play by Friday, expect a whole host of questions about the nature of Garnett’s injury, which has been described as a calf strain. Without the timeline, this is just a common-sense delay.
Then there’s Kendrick Perkins , who announced that he was ready to return to full-contact practice and would be back in three weeks. But when the Celtics held practice, Perkins was kept on the sidelines by Rivers and Dr. Brian McKeon for everything expect skeleton drills and no-contact running.
It was the team’s first practice in weeks and Rivers wanted it to be live and physical. In other words, it wasn’t a good environment for Perkins to take his first contact since injuring his knee in Game 6 of the NBA finals .
“We went pretty hard so I didn’t want him out there in that,” Rivers said. “We did a lot of contact stuff and I didn’t want him to be a part of it. It was a good practice actually. I knew we were going to do a lot of live, hard rebounding stuff. Too many bodies. Too many feet. I didn’t want him involved.”
Perkins, who will be kept out of live practice for the rest of the week, said he was disappointed, but he understood. “A little bit, but at the same time I know it’s in my best interest,” he said when asked if he was frustrated by the delay. “If they say one more week, I can go one more week.”
Still, Perkins wouldn’t back off his ultimate timeline to return in three weeks. If he can’t go by the time the Celtics play the Lakers on Jan. 30, then it will feel like a setback, he said — even though he is only six months removed from knee surgery.
Of all the injured Celtics, Delonte West  has offered no set timetable. He had his hard cast taken off his broken right wrist, but he’s still not able to do anything basketball-related with his right hand like catch, shoot or dribble a ball. He also said he has trouble turning doorknobs in his house and carrying groceries.
In the meantime, West said he has watched Youtube videos of “karate masters” (his term) to learn how to absorb contact in other parts of his body when he falls. He also went to Home Depot and bought a bucket, which he filled with rice. He sticks his hand in the bucket and churns. (Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton did the same routine for years.)
“It works too,” he said. “Try it man.”
West was vague when pressed for a return date, which was smart because he simply doesn’t know yet. His next step is to be able to handle the basketball with his right hand, which he hopes will happen next week. Ultimately he knows that his body will tell him when it’s time.
“I’d rather let it heal naturally,” West said. “With the rice.”