While one of last year's "O'Neal brothers" has confirmed that he won't be back next year, as the 39-year-old center Shaquille O'Neal walked away from the Celtics and retired earlier this month, the other is expected back.
Jermaine O'Neal, 32 years old and riddled by injuries, has expressed an interest in returning to the Celtics for one more season.
"He has every intention of coming back," Danny Ainge said Wednesday. "I wouldn't say that something can't happen that he won't come back, but he has every desire to come back and play. He didn't like the way it finished this year and doesn't want to end his career on that kind of note. He wants to be a much greater contributor next year."
Injuries were a huge concern for the Celtics center last season, his 14th in the league. He missed 58 of the Celtics' 82 regular-season games, primarily because of his knees. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in early February and didn't return until late March. Then, after the playoffs, it was revealed that he'd played a handful of postseason games with a fractured wrist.
Luckily, O'Neal now has plenty of time to rest up this summer. Perhaps even more than usual, depending on the resolution of the impending NBA lockout.
"He's doing treatment a lot and working on his body," coach Doc Rivers said. "I think a lot of guys are kind of rushing their treatments because of the July 1 date [of the lockout] — after that, treatment goes away. That may have a little bit to do with it as well."
Ainge said that O'Neal had the option of undergoing another surgery at the end of the season, but that he opted against it. From here, it's time for a long offseason recovery process in the hopes of a healthy, productive season in 2011-12.
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