Doc Rivers Unsure About Celtics’ Center Position Going Forward As Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal Battle Injuries


For the absolutely immediate future, the Celtics have a plan for their starting center situation. Shaquille O'Neal is out, day to day with an inflamed Achilles, so Kendrick Perkins will start.

But whether this means anything for the weeks ahead is unclear.

"I don't know yet," C's coach Doc Rivers said Friday before Perk made his first start against the Dallas Mavericks. "We were probably going to start Perk after the All-Star break, anyway. So we'll see."

The injured O'Neals — both Shaq, and Jermaine O'Neal with his chronic knee soreness — have forced the Celtics to rush Perk back into the starting five and ramp up his minutes faster than expected. Rivers' original plan was to bring Perkins off the bench for 12 to 15 minutes a night, and instead he's starting and routinely playing 20-plus.

"I wanted to wait a little bit, honestly," Rivers said. "But it is what it is. I've been very pleased with him. I think it helps that he's been with the same group and he's very comfortable with the guys he's playing with."

Shaq has only come off the bench nine times throughout his 1,206-game career in the NBA. It's possible that upon his return from the Achilles injury, the Diesel may have to try his hand at playing sixth man.

But Rivers isn't giving anything away just yet. In fact, he doesn't even have a return date set for Shaq.

"I don't know," the coach said. "I have no idea. I don't think he'll play Sunday [against Orlando]. But after that, after Sunday and Monday [at Charlotte], we have breaks in days. So we're hoping we can get him back then."

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