Celtics' O'Neal plans season-ending wrist surgery

CHARLES ODUM AP Sports Writer Published:

ATLANTA (AP) -- Boston Celtics forward-center Jermaine O'Neal will have surgery on his left wrist and miss the remainder of the season, adding more urgency to the team's search for inside help.

O'Neal, in his 16th NBA season, already has missed 13 games with the sprained wrist. Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said Monday no date has been set for the surgery.

The 33-year-old O'Neal has averaged 5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 25 games, including 24 starts, this season.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said before Monday night's game against the Hawks the team hopes to add "one or two bigs" this week to replace O'Neal, who has been out since Feb. 22.

"We already had counted this in, honestly," said Rivers of O'Neal's inability to return. "We've had the 'For Sale' sign out. We've just got to get somebody to buy.

"I feel good that we're going to find a couple of guys. ... We'd like one that has a skyhook and is 7 feet tall, but we're probably not going to find that."

The Celtics, seventh in the Eastern Conference, began Monday night's game in Atlanta only two games over .500. Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass and Paul Pierce were Boston's three starting forwards against the Hawks.

Rookie Sasha Pavlovic, averaging only 1.9 points per game, was one of Rivers' first substitutes against the Hawks.

Rivers said the team can't be too selective in its search for help.

"Really, honestly, whoever comes, we're going to look at him and we're probably going to sign him," Rivers said. "It's pretty close to that."

O'Neal, from Columbia, S.C., was a first-round pick by Portland in 1996. He also has played with Indiana and Miami. He averaged more than 20 points per game in four straight seasons with Indiana (2002-06).