- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics held an open practice Tuesday afternoon at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint:
--PERKINS PRACTICES DURING NON-CONTACT DRILLS--
Celtics center Kendrick Perkins participated in his most heightened on-court activity Tuesday since undergoing offseason ACL surgery on his right knee, taking a big step forward in his quest to return to the lineup later this season.
After an MRI last week, the training staff gave Perkins the OK to attempt non-contact work and he joined his teammates on the court for both stretching and skeleton work during Tuesday's 75-minute session. Perkins worked with the first team while running some basic sets and capped some pick-and-roll exercises with a series of dunks.
"I went through the dummy offense a little bit with the guys -- got up and down a bit -- it felt pretty good," said Perkins. "We just went over some plays. It was good to be out there."
Perkins, who got fitted for a new brace last week, said he dunked immediately after trying it on -- "Just to make sure I still can," he joked -- but said he even surprised himself Tuesday by not thinking about the injury and moving well.
"A couple times I did [think about the knee], like on a pick-and-roll that I went up and dunked, but I didn't even think about it then, not until after. I was like, 'Damn, I might be all right, after all.' I felt pretty good out there.
"I guess, basically, it's having the confidence to know that -- you're kind of going to be scared on it the first couple of times being back out there -- but [I wasn't] really today. My timing was a little off, but I thought I did pretty well for my first time back."
Perkins said he hasn't experienced any setbacks and simply wants to keep moving forward, but admitted that the coaching staff's goals for his return might be even more ambitious than his own. He said coach Doc Rivers pegged a potential return to full-throttle practice for late January or early February, but Perkins is still eying the All-Star break. He'll do more skeleton work for the next month or so, then ease his way into contact drills in the new year.
Rivers stressed that, despite the timeline, the team is tempering expectations knowing how hard it is for a player to bounce back from that surgery.
"The mental part is when he comes back, how much he trusts his leg," said Rivers. "If we can get anything out of Perk this year, we’ll be thrilled. I know he's going to play, but it usually takes a year after surgery to be completely confident."
--J.O'NEAL 50/50 FOR WEDNESDAY'S GAME VS. THE 76ERS--
Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal went through his second full practice session and estimated he's "50/50" to play in Wednesday's game against the 76ers. But he said he'll definitely be back on the court this week.
O'Neal has missed the last 18 games because of lingering left knee soreness that originally forced him to the sideline during the second half of a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 8.
"I'm still trying to get my cardio and conditioning together," said O'Neal. "I haven't really talked with the [training] staff yet. We're going to talk [later Wednesday]. I'd say there's a 50/50 chance [to play vs. Philadelphia]. At some point, I'm going to play this week, whether it's [Wednesday] or Christmas Day.
"I think I can help the team, but for how long? I don’t know," said O'Neal, "So as far as conditioning, I’m going to work out again this afternoon, get on the treadmill. The knee itself, it’s fine."
O'Neal admitted he's eager to get back on the court, but doesn't want to rush after all the time he's put into making sure he's healthy. He did think he could make an immediate impact with the second-unit defense, even after admitting to an up-and-down practice.
He stressed that conditioning, not his knee, is the biggest concern.
"My body is going to be a little sore, I've been out a month and a half," said O'Neal. "But there's a difference between soreness and pain. I'm just a little sore. This is who I am right now. This is what God has given me right now. You deal with it and move forward. With the brace, it’s going to help, but I can’t guarantee that the knee is not going to flare up. But right now I feel good, I feel strong, I feel capable of helping the team."
--LOOSE BALLS: ROOKIES ROPED INTO SINGING DUTY AT OPEN SESSION--
* The Celtics held the first of a handful of open sessions for corporate sponsors. Both the fans and media got to observe the entire practice (the media typically observes only the last few minutes of sessions). As usual, the not-so-shy Glen Davis got the duties of thanking the fans that came out for the event and he dragged rookies Luke Harangody, Avery Bradley and Semih Erden in front of the fans to sing a Christmas song. The first-year players got through about a verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" before it fell apart (not that Erden had a chance to begin with; see video above).
* Celtics guard Rajon Rondo did not participate in the session. He did make an appearance in the latter part of the practice, walking without the aid of a boot or crutches on the sideline, while dribbling a basketball. Before leaving the court, Rondo, who was wearing sandals, chucked a few deep 3-pointers from the edge of the weight room, winning an on-the-spot bet with Nate Robinson by splashing two of them. He then spent time on a treadmill that lessens the wear and tear on the feet and knees to keep his cardio up.
* Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal went through much of the session and, if that sore right calf holds up, it appears he'll be back in the starting lineup Wednesday night ... Erden, slowed by a groin pull recently, got limited reps in place of the O'Neals.
* The entire 15-man roster was present on the court during the event with Delonte West (fractured right wrist) observing some of the session.