WALTHAM, Mass. — Chris Wilcox still is not running with the speed or stamina he did five months ago. He remains limited to only minimal weightlifting. Yet Wilcox, who missed the latter half of last season after doctors discovered an aortic irregularity in his heart, would get back on the court today if there were a game to be played.
"This is a blessing for me to even be here right now, so I'm just going to take advantage of the situation and all the opportunities that have been coming my way," Wilcox said Saturday at the Celtics practice facility, where he met with reporters after signing a new contract with the team. "It's a blessing that I'm able to come back to a team where I can kind of pick up where I left off."
The Celtics did not announce terms of the deal, but the contract is believed to be for the veteran's minimum of $1.35 million. The 10-year veteran played for the $3 million taxpayers' mid-level exception last season, when he appeared in 28 games and averaged 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in just over 17 minutes per game.
Wilcox, 29, joked about coming back with "more energy, hopefully," once training cap commences this fall. He said he expects to be at full strength by then, rounding out a frontcourt that is suddenly stacked. Forwards Jeff Green and Brandon Bass joined Wilcox at Saturday's news conference, adding to a front line that was bolstered with the drafting of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Kevin Garnett, who also signed a new deal with the Celtics this offseason, was not present Saturday.
If Wilcox indeed picks up where he left off, the Celtics would have a capable reserve forward who was playing the best he had all season when he went down in March. Wilcox averaged 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in 13 games in February and appeared in four games in March before the surprise announcement about his heart ailment.
Wilcox hoped to delay the surgery until after the season, but he said the doctors would not clear him to play.
"Ten years in the league and all of the sudden, you have heart surgery," Wilcox said. "It's tough. Like I said, it's just a blessing they found what they found, when they found it. Now I can just move forward with my life and my career."
Thumbnail via Facebook/Chris Wilcox