Celtics notebook

Shaq unlikely to play on trip

Achilles’ injury keeps center in Fla. for rehab

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / February 23, 2011

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OAKLAND, Calif. — With his inflamed Achilles’ tendon showing no signs of improving, Shaquille O’Neal isn’t expected to return to the Celtics until after this current stint out West.

He is currently in Orlando working out individually.

“He’s close,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “That’s why he’s with our guy and he’s just working out every day.’’

O’Neal has missed six games because of the injury, which originally surfaced when the Celtics came back from Sacramento in January. He has been wearing a boot because of it.

“There’s nothing that can be done,’’ Rivers said. “It’s just a healing issue and taking time. He’s feeling a lot better, he’s moving better. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him right after we come off this trip. I would be surprised to see him on the trip.’’

O’Neal was in Los Angeles for All-Star Weekend, sitting courtside for the game and making an appearance at Jerry West’s statue unveiling Thursday afternoon in front of the Staples Center.

“We had a couple of conversations,’’ said Rivers. “He’s feeling a lot better. He looks good, his weight’s down from when he got injured, so he’s doing all the right stuff.’’

O’Neal has missed 18 games this season with an array of issues with his right leg.

No big deal? The deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to the Big Apple made waves around the league, but didn’t generate much conversation in the Celtics locker room.

The Knicks also added Chauncey Billups, but the Celtics, who have won both matchups with New York this season, are comfortable atop the Eastern Conference and are paying little attention.

“We haven’t even talked about it,’’ said Ray Allen. “It’s nothing really right now in our immediate concern because of obviously where we are and what we’re trying to do. We’ll deal with it when the time comes.’’

Rivers seemed more impressed with how even the trade wound up, with the Nuggets landing Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, plus picks and cash.

“It just makes the East more interesting,’’ Rivers said. “It’s going to be another team we’re going to have to try to beat.’’

Still, the Knicks seemingly gutted the roster that got them off to their best start in years, and Allen questioned their strategy.

“It’s hard to say, really,’’ Allen said. “They gave up some guys that helped them get to the point they’re at. So what does the rest of their team look like at this point?

“Do you want to win a championship now? Are you building for the future? Are you trying to build a dynasty? What are you trying to do?’’

Like the Heat, the Knicks are following the Celtics model of luring multiple superstars to one place. The possibility of the Knicks adding Deron Williams or Chris Paul in 2012 is not inconceivable.

“I always said the team that wins the conference, the division, or the title is the team that sets the bar,’’ Allen said. “So to get out of your conference, you’re basically trying to line up with them.

“You have to match up and try to get players of equal or better talent. The Knicks haven’t been in contention in years in their division, so that’s what they’re doing.’’

Rookie lumps Former Harvard star Jeremy Lin was recalled by Golden State from the D-League this month, and had played in four of the last five games before the All-Star break. He is still trying to find his niche in a tough rookie season.

“It’s been tough, not only going from college level to NBA level but point guard to shooting guard,’’ Lin said. “Those are two huge adjustments for me. So I’m just trying to be patient, trying to work hard.’’

Lin went undrafted last summer but turned a strong showing at the Las Vegas summer league into a deal with the Warriors.

In 17 D-League games, he averaged 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.

Walton weighs in With Tom Heinsohn staying back in Boston for this trip, Bill Walton again is joining Mike Gorman as part Comcast SportsNet’s coverage.

Walton said there will be only four difference-makers in the postseason, and the Celtics have one of them.

“There’s four players that are going to decide this year’s NBA championship: Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], KG [Kevin Garnett], and Manu [Ginobili],’’ Walton said. “The Lakers and Celtics are the best teams, but Miami and San Antonio, they can be in there.’’

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