Shaquille O’Neal made a public appearance today, which means the media assaulted him for an update on his health situation. Shaq explained to his assaulters how he would play Wednesday if it were a playoff game, and how his body’s now 85% healthy. The Green Mile believes he’ll return in another week or so, and might have returned already were it not for a setback he experienced last week. (Chris Forsberg’s Twitter account)
In other news, Danny Ainge spoke about his reasons for making the Jeff Green trade.
One of the reasons was “[From a health standpoint,] Shaq’s better than he was in the fall.” There were more reasons. (Sports Illustrated)
First of all, we were leading the conference because of Shaq. We had a better record with Shaq than we did with Perk. Our offense was better and our defense was at least the same. I don’t think Perk is Perk yet. I hope that he becomes that for Oklahoma City’s sake. We thought it was going to take some time for Perk. He wasn’t the shot-blocker or the rebounder that he’s been in the past. We think that by adding Jeff Green (Green had 21 against the Warriors last Friday), Nenad Krstic, and Troy Murphy we think we’re a better team than we were. Shaq was starting for us when we had the great run this year. Baby (Glen Davis) was finishing for us. So we basically lost middle minutes.
Just to set the record straight, Perkins’ rebounding rate this season was his best since The Big Three Era began (though he played only a few games in Boston this season, leaving a small sample size).
Nobody put more time and effort into helping Perk become a better player and a better man than me. I spent so much time with Perk. I feel like I raised him in the NBA. I’m a big fan of Kendrick Perkins. I just think we have every bit as good a team now, and it helps us for the future. And the numbers back that up. Now if Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal] can’t play we could be in trouble. But Perk’s out for three weeks right now. He’s coming off an ACL tear and he’s got a sprained MCL on the other knee so the health of all of those players is in question. I’m a Perk fan. Love him as a player. But I think he’s a player that is not irreplaceable. Time will tell.
After five games post-trade (I throw out the loss to the Nuggets, because the new acquisitions did not suit up), Ainge looks like a genius. Jeff Green has been everything the Celtics could have wanted, Nenad Krstic looks like a poor man’s (okay, maybe a homeless man’s) Kevin McHale, and the Celtics are 5-0. Not bad.
There’s also this: (Boston Herald)
“Doc’s a mastermind when it comes to the lineups,” Garnett said. “He’s throwing some things offensively and defensively, things that we haven’t seen since the James Posey days. Man, I’m telling you, every time I see Jeff Green I’m just more impressed. The versatility of this guy is unbelievable. He’s just helping us so much right now.”
There are problems, of course. I point you to Ainge’s comment: “If Shaq and Jermaine can’t play we could be in trouble,” and I could also point out how the new-look Celtics have yet to play a contender. But the trade’s effect has been mostly rosy so far, unless you find five-game winning streaks miserable.
That Shaq’s apparently close to a return only makes my growing smile wider, even if I’m still in “I’ll believe Shaq’s return when I see it” mode.