source: Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Boston Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal will undergo season-ending surgery on his ailing left wrist, ending his time with the team -- and maybe his career -- after two injury-plagued seasons in Boston.
The Celtics announced Monday night that O'Neal has a chronic degenerative wrist condition that was exacerbated by a fall during a game against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 20. The wrist has not responded to immobilization and physical therapy, and the decision was made to proceed with surgery.
Inked for two years at the mid-level exception during the summer of 2010, O'Neal was limited to 49 appearances and 1,001 minutes of floor time. He averaged 5.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
But his time in Boston will be remembered for his inability to stay on the floor, as he missed 58 games in 2010-11 because of left knee issues that required in-season surgery. This season, the knee flared again at times, but it was the lingering left wrist issue that ultimately ended his campaign after 25 appearances.
"Jermaine worked hard to get himself in condition to play this season despite his ongoing wrist issues," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. "He played through pain the entire year and gave us all he could, but unfortunately after the fall against Dallas there simply wasn't anything else he could do. We appreciate his contributions to our team over the last two years."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers maintained last week that he didn't believe O'Neal would be back with the team this season because of his injuries.
"I assumed that the whole time honestly," Rivers said before Monday's game in Atlanta. "I give him a lot of credit. He did what he needed to do -- I mean he tried. You just know when [the doctors] say you probably should have surgery, and then they say, 'Well, let's see if we could ...' you know where that's going.
"But I give him a lot of credit. I just thought he tried to do whatever he could do. The doctors realized that there was no way."
O'Neal took to Twitter soon after the announcement Monday night and wrote, "Sometimes in life you are dealt a hand that you are not sure why, but I know it's all in God's plans and I know it will be the best plan."
O'Neal has said in the past he was unsure if he'd play beyond this season and the injury woes seem to have left the former preps-to-pro phenom to ponder hanging up his hightops after 16 NBA seasons.
"I'm not sure what my basketball future is, but I want to thank the cities of Portland, Indiana, Miami, Toronto and Boston for 16 great years," O'Neal wrote on Twitter.
The 33-year-old O'Neal originally injured his left wrist taking a charge in Toronto during the preseason of 2010. He aggravated the injury during the first round of the playoffs last year against the New York Knicks and again while taking a charge against the Mavericks before the All-Star break.
The Celtics could facilitate a buyout with O'Neal in order to free a roster spot for a much-needed big man.
The Celtics announced last week that center Chris Wilcox will miss the remainder of the season as he will undergo aortic surgery.
One option the Celtics are considering is veteran big man Ronny Turiaf, who secured his released from the Denver Nuggets over the weekend and expects to choose a new team by Wednesday when he clears waivers, agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.com.
Turiaf, 29, is being pursued by a handful of teams led by the Celtics and Miami Heat. He hasn't played since Jan. 1 when he broke his left hand for the second time in the last year. But Bartelstein said he has been cleared to play.
Because of the injury he has played only four games this season for the Washington Wizards, who traded him to Denver in a package for Nene last week, averaging 1.5 points and 3 rebounds. He's averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds over his seven-year career.
"He's at the end of his contract so Ronny is looking for some significant playing time and a significant role," Bartelstein said. "We have a number of teams interested."
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com contributed to this report.