Wilcox says he’ll be back
With medical clearance comes a one-year deal
ORLANDO — Chris Wilcox’s return to the NBA took a major step Friday afternoon when he said he will sign a one-year deal with the Celtics after having his 2011-12 season end prematurely because of an enlarged aorta.
Wilcox had surgery and is beginning basketball activities. Expected to serve as a backup at forward and center, Wilcox agreed to a deal believed to be at the league’s minimum.
“I am just excited and ready to get out there on the court,” he said. “I’m ready, just training now and trying to get my body back right, where I can help. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off.”
Wilcox was plagued by injuries early in his first season with the Celtics, but found a niche as a sparkplug off the bench, throwing down alley-oops and giving the club energy with his rebounding. He averaged 7 points and 5.5 rebounds over a 17-game stretch before a heart exam detected the abnormality in March.
Wilcox said he has been given full clearance to return and always targeted Boston. He attended two Celtics games following his surgery.
“It’s going to be a big year for me and a big year for the team,” he said. “I think I’m ready for it. Like I said, just trying to get into basketball shape. It will be good for me, at the same time Jeff [Green] will be back, so I think it will be a great opportunity for me just to come back and try to pick up where I left off.”
Wilcox had been told aorta issues could develop, but they did not surface until his 10th NBA season. Like Green, who underwent surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, Wilcox feared he might never play in the NBA again.
“I think it’s a blessing to have the surgery like we did and be able to come back in the same year,” he said. “That’s just God working in our favor. I thank Boston for giving me the opportunity to come back. I just got to take advantage of the situation and hopefully things will work out.”
Wilcox said he will continue to work out in Houston this summer and should be ready to participate in training camp.
The Celtics completed their Orlando portion of summer league with a 4-1 record after a 94-73 victory over the Magic at Amway Center.
Dionte Christmas, making a bid for a training camp invite, led the Celtics with 21 points and E’Twaun Moore added 18. Fab Melo turned in his best game of the week with 5 points and 10 rebounds. Larry Owens added 14 points off the bench.
Jared Sullinger did not play, getting a break as the Celtics open their Las Vegas summer slate Monday against the Hawks.
Christmas, a 6-foot-5-inch guard, averaged 12.2 points over the five games and he finished Friday’s game with 3 steals, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds. He enjoyed a stellar career at Temple and has played in Europe the past three seasons.
“I thought it was a pretty good week,” he said. “As far as me individually, I think hopefully I’ve opened up a couple of eyes. I’ve been getting great feedback, teams have been saying I’m doing great out here and I just want to continue that today.”
There is little chance the Celtics can work out a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks for Jason Terry unless the Celtics are willing to part with a combination of young assets such as JaJuan Johnson, Moore, or perhaps Mickael Pietrus or Keyon Dooling. The Celtics would love to facilitate a sign-and-trade to free up their mid-level exception to sign shooting guard Courtney Lee.