In the early hours of an Oregon Thanksgiving morning, 19-year-old Jermaine O’Neal’s life was about to change in ways he never could have imagined.



PAUL FLANNERY

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WALTHAM -- With Kendrick Perkins rehabbing his knee injury from last June and Jermaine O'Neal dealing with nagging wrist and back issues in the preseason, the last thing the Celtics needed before Tuesday's opener was another ailment to another big man. But that's what they got Sunday when coach Doc Rivers announced that upstart big man Semih Erden is questionable for Tuesday with a sore shoulder. 

 

WALTHAM -- As tempers flared between Delonte West and Von Wafer during a post-practice drill, the Celtics continued preparations for the Miami Heat on Sunday at their practice facility. 

 

Wafer, who won the last 15th and final roster spot after the final preseason game last Wednesday, played with Luke Harangody against West and Semih Erden in a 2-on-2 drill as extra time is being spent at the end of practice for new players trying to learn the Celtics offensive sets before they open the season Tuesday night at home against Miami. 

 

WALTHAM -- Just days after heading to Harvard Square to pretend he was a statue for an hour, Shaquille O'Neal revealed what his next experiments will be.

 

Initially, Shaq mentioned that his next public foray will be seasonally-based.

 

"I thinking of buy a snowsuit, standing in the middle of a field and have people throw snowballs at me," he said. "Something different."

 

But then, after a suggestion from a reporter that he could integrate the 'T' into his next field trip, O'Neal latched onto the idea.

WALTHAM -- The Celtics have plenty of size and depth but coach Doc Rivers admitted that one of the questions coming into Tuesday's season opener against Miami is who will fill the important role of defensive stopper like Tony Allen did successfully in the playoffs last season. 

 

"I don't know yet, honestly. We don't have a Tony Allen here," Rivers said of Allen, who left in the offseason and signed a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. 

 

From the beginning, the starting center spot for the Celtics was going to be a fluid situation. With Kendrick Perkins rehabbing from knee surgery, Jermaine O'Neal started camp as the first-team center. When he hurt his hamstring and missed a week of practice, Shaquille O'Neal assumed the role. Now that the start of the season is right around the corner, it appears that when the starters are introduced Tuesday night, Shaq will be among them.

 

The WEEI.com Power Rankings are out and have the Celtics heading into the 2010-11 season sitting in the same spot they finished the previous campaign in, No. 2, behind the Lakers. The Celts are positioned one spot in front of their Opening Night foes, the Miami Heat. Rounding out the Top 5 are Oklahoma City and Orlando. According to the rankings, the three worst teams in the NBA to start the season will be Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto.

 

Jermaine O'Neal went through a full practice Friday and expressed confidence that he'll be ready to play when the regular season opens on Tuesday. O'Neal is dealing with a variety of injuries, but the one that has affected him is the most is torn cartalige in his left wrist. The injury occurred in the first quarter of the Celtics preseason game in Toronto last Friday.

 

WALTHAM -- In the wake of comments by NBA commissioner David Stern that he wants player salaries cut by a third, Celtics alternate player representative Rajon Rondo said Friday that he is already saving his money in the event that league owners decide to lockout players after this season and shut down in order to save on expenses. 

 

According to multiple reports, former Celtics guard Charles Smith was shot Thursday afternoon at a house in Bowie, Md., and was in critical but stable condition following surgery. Authorities were searching for a man seen fleeing the home with a handgun.