|Celtics search for a big man||03.15.12 at 11:57 pm ET|
SACRAMENTO — After not making a move at the trade deadline, the Celtics are going forward with the core of their roster intact, but they are by no means a finished product. After learning that Chris Wilcox will need aortic surgery and miss the rest of the season, the search is on for a big man, and possibly two.
The market is limited, but there is some hope that a few players will become available by March 23. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for a postseason roster. It’s important to note that players can sign at any point up to the end of the regular season as long as they are not on someone’s roster after the March 23 deadline.
“We do need to add a big man,” team president Danny Ainge said. “We need to find the best big man available and we’ll be a little bit patient in that.”
Here’s a list of some of the big men who are, or may become available.
Chris Kaman – The biggest name by far, Kaman is averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds for the Hornets who have to tried to trade the 7-footer most of the season but found no takers for his $14 million contract. Hornets GM Dell Demps told reporters on Thursday that the team plans to keep Kaman.
“Everything is always a possibility,” Demps said. “I mean there’s no reason to say I’m certain, 100 percent sure. There’s always a possibility. I never want to say never. But our intention is to keep Chris.”
If Kaman is waived, the Celtics will have competition. Yahoo! reported that the Spurs and Heat would also be interested in signing him.
Jermaine O’Neal – This may be a stretch, but his situation remains murky.
“I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing clear,” Doc Rivers said on Thursday. “It’s not been final but I don’t see him playing.”
Still, Ainge said later that he hasn’t closed the door on O’Neal who has been working out at the team’s facility and he plans to meet with him on Friday. “I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting,” Ainge said.
It’s an indication of how thin the big man market is that O’Neal could be a lot of team’s Plan B if Kaman isn’t available.
Turiaf is a tough interior presence and a consummate pro, but he played in only four games with the Wizards this season. He also underwent aortic heart surgery in 2005. He’s played without incident since the surgery, but this is a team that has already lost Wilcox and Jeff Green to heart surgery. Still, he’ll be in demand like Kaman and possibly O’Neal.
Chris Johnson – The one-time Celtic is expected to be waived by the Blazers, along with Greg Oden. Johnson appeared in 20 games for Portland this season and played just 93 minutes. He’s 7 feet tall and a shot blocker, and the Celtics are obviously familiar with him after signing him to a 10-day contract last season.
As for Oden, forget it. The former No. 1 overall pick is recovering from his fifth knee surgery and won’t play again this season, if at all.
Leon Powe – The popular former Celtic has been playing in Puerto Rico, but the Celtics have shown little interest in bringing him back since they cut ties with him after the 2009 season.
Earl Barron – Currently playing for the Meralco Bolts in the Philippines, Barron has played for six NBA teams over seven seasons.
Here’s a look at some of the players in the D-League. Among the names are Brian Butch, Keith Benson and NBA veteran Dan Gadzuric.
Other veterans: Jake Voskhul, D.J. Mbenga, Francisco Elson, Theo Ratliff, Etan Thomas, Brian Skinner.
|Filling the void left by Chris Wilcox||03.11.12 at 9:11 pm ET|
LOS ANGELES — What are the odds, Doc Rivers wanted to know, of losing two players because of a heart condition?
‘It’s not a great place. It’s scary. It really is. The chances of having one of these in a year is pretty minute,’ Rivers said before the Celtics took on the Lakers on Sunday. ‘The chances of having two is like, impossible. There’s a chance that may happen. We just have to wait and see.’
Already reeling from the loss of Jeff Green to heart surgery ‘ a loss that had a deep and a lasting impact on everything from the roster to the rotation ‘ the Celtics are preparing to be without Chris Wilcox, as well. Going back to his days with the Pistons, Wilcox has been tested regularly and something came up last week that forced more tests and evaluation.
‘I’d rather find it than not,’ said Rivers who was understandably vague about the exact nature of Wilcox’s condition. ‘At the end of the day we’re lucky and that’s what I told our team: That we’re very lucky that this happened and not unlucky. I think that’s the way you have to look at it and that’s how we’re looking at it.’
There is no timetable for Wilcox, although Rivers said they probably wouldn’t know definitively for at least week. He was able to see the team before they headed out on the trip.
‘He seemed like he was in good spirits,’ Brandon Bass said. ‘I wish the best for him. I’m praying for him. He’s a country boy, he’s tough. He’ll be all right.’
On the court, Wilcox’s absence leaves a huge hole in the middle for the Celtics. They had recently decided to go with a nine-man rotation and Wilcox was the first big man off the bench, backing up both the center and the power forward spots. His per-game averages of 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds don’t nearly explain his importance, not to mention his occasional flashes of open-court brilliance.
‘I can’t say much about it but obviously team-wise it’s a hell of a blow for us,’ Rivers said.
Without Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics are down to two veteran bigs: Bass and Kevin Garnett. Bass missed time with a knee injury, but has played well since he returned and Garnett’s minutes are closely-guarded. They need help just to get through the regular-season grind, but with the trade deadline looming, this doesn’t necessarily change the team’s approach. Read the rest of this entry »