The thinking is ‘forward’
Team may need a small tweak
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Even with Jermaine O’Neal missing six to eight weeks and Shaquille O’Neal out through the All-Star break with injuries, the Celtics were ready to plug along with the players they had.
But after Marquis Daniels went down Sunday with a bruised spinal cord, leaving him out indefinitely, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the team might be forced to consider a roster move.
“I think what we have to do really is wait and see with the Marquis situation, how long that will be,’’ Rivers said. “If that’s long then we have to do something.’’
As it stands, the Celtics have no one to back up Paul Pierce at small forward. Even with Delonte West’s possible return before the All-Star break, the Celtics are still thin. Last night in Charlotte, with Semih Erden out with a strained right abductor muscle, the Celtics were down to 10 healthy players.
“Like I told our guys, nothing you can do about it,’’ Rivers said. “You’ve got to go out and play. [Last night], there will be a couple of guys playing spots, someone’s going to play [small forward] that’s never played it before. That’s just where we’re at right now.’’
The market for small forwards is slim. Richard Hamilton has been bundled in unsuccessful deals by the Pistons.
They came close to sending rookie Luke Harangody down to the NBA Development League, after he spent four straight games on the bench.
“Then we had these little injuries, and decided to keep him up,’’ Rivers said.
Controversial KG From Phil Jackson to Spike Lee, those who have gripes with Kevin Garnett seems to be growing by the day. Rivers came to Garnett’s defense.
“That means he’s on their mind, that’s fine by me,’’ Rivers said. “Kevin does nothing wrong. He plays the game the right way. I think all these people that call him out would take him on their team right now. Other than that, I could care less about that stuff.’’
After Garnett appeared to hit Suns forward Channing Frye in the groin last month, Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he “lost respect’’ for Garnett, adding that, although highly competitive, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwyane Wade never resorted to extreme tactics.
“Actually, I didn’t know Alvin said anything,’’ Rivers said. “I’ll just let Alvin talk. He seems to do that well.’’
Toward the end of last night’s 94-89 loss to the Bobcats, Eduardo Najera went nose-to-nose with Garnett after Garnett elbowed him in the face.
“I just told him he hits like my grandma,’’ Najera said.
Daniels stays in touch Avery Bradley said he was watching when Daniels had to be taken off the floor on a stretcher. He sent a text message to Daniels not long after the incident.
What he didn’t expect was a reply so quickly.
“I guess he’s all right,’’ Bradley said.
Daniels regained full function at New England Baptist Hospital — he was released from the hospital yesterday morning — and Rivers said that like Bradley, he’s been talking with Daniels through text message.
“We just text each other,’’ Rivers said. “That’s the new generation of talking. We’ve gone back and forth, he’s feeling a lot better.’’
Football talk Rivers chatted with South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier before the game outside the Celtics locker room. It was the first time the two had met.
“We were laughing because I have two helmets in my office in Orlando,’’ Rivers said. “One’s a Spurrier South Carolina helmet and one is Ronnie Lott. So, he liked that. But it was good to finally meet him.
“I asked him if he had any big guys we could use. Just to give us six fouls. Hard fouls.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.