The good news is that Jermaine O'Neal is going to start playing. The bad news is that the other O'Neal appears to be locked in a perpetual state of "a week or so away."
"I don’t have any idea," Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said after watching the workout by O’Neal, who is attempting to recover from a sore right Achilles tendon. "It could be a week or two weeks. "I watched him work out, and he’s starting to do things on the court. We’re just still not sure of when he’s going to come back. There probably isn’t a soul in the Celtics organization who would have predicted, even two weeks ago, that Jermaine O’Neal would return to full practice and probably a game before his namesake.
At this point I remain skeptical of what either O'Neal can actually bring to the table. Both could take a while to get back into the flow of the game. Both could get hurt again at the drop of a dime. At least with Jermaine we know he had surgery to (hopefully) fix what was wrong with him. For Shaq I don't think there's a surgery to fix "old."
We'll know a lot more by the end of the season. Fingers crossed.
Bonus Link: Jackie MacMullan on Ainge's Bold Moves
With the season ticking down, Shaq's status becomes a major factor in Boston's hopes for a title run. Jermaine O'Neal hopes to return by the end of this week, but if neither big man can play sustained minutes, was the Perkins deal a bust?
"I don't think so,'' Ainge answered. "We believe we will have both Shaq and J.O. back. Now if they don't, and Krstic can't play at the high level he was performing at when he arrived, obviously we won't have the kind of depth we want, but our recent struggles have nothing to do with the center position.''