Boston Celtics: JR Giddens
No timetable has been set for Giddens' return, but he indicated Sunday that he is expecting to miss a month.
Giddens, the Celtics' first-round draft choice (30th overall) in 2008, has appeared in 21 games this season. He was injured on assignment with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League when he landed awkwardly while nearly being upended on a dunk attempt against the Utah Flash on Jan. 25.
Giddens, who had tweaked the knee the game before against Bakersfield, underwent tests that revealed a slight tear in the meniscus. Despite the setback, Giddens was trying to stay positive.
"It's a bummer, but you sit back and look for a positive," said Giddens. "I can work on other areas of my body and maybe my legs can be stronger than before."
Giddens, the Celtics first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2008 draft, has appeared in 21 games this season. He spent part of last season with the Utah Flash of the NBDL, averaging 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3 assist per game over 26 appearances.
Giddens drew a spot start, the first of his NBA career, on Jan. 2, while Paul Pierce was sidelined with a right knee infection. Since then, the 6-foot-5 guard out of New Mexico has played 17 minutes, 16 of which came in a lopsided win over the New Jersey Nets last week.
Earlier this year, the Celtics declined their team option on Giddens, which will make him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Giddens, who is making little more than $1 million this season, could potentially be used as a trade chip based on his expiring deal.
Why send Giddens down?
With the Celtics set to welcome back Kevin Garnett on Friday, that means someone on the active roster is sliding down to an inactive spot. Including Giddens, the Celtics were at 14 players, with Marquis Daniels sidelined through the All-Star break after left thumb surgery. That means, even with Giddens' assignment, the Celtics will have 12 healthy (or as healthy as the Celtics can be at this point) bodies for Friday's game.
The Celtics also play just two games over the next seven days (Friday and Monday), while the Red Claws play five games in six days, offering Giddens a chance to really log quality court time and potentially join the team again in an emergency situation.
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Wallace plans Monday return | Latest KG update | Celtics keep it light | Pierce on minutes
Wallace expects to play Monday
Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace participated in Saturday's session and expects to play Monday night when the Dallas Mavericks visit the TD Garden.
"Definitely, I'm going to go Monday," said Wallace. "I've got one more [practice on Sunday] to get under my belt. I'll be fine."
Wallace was a late scratch in Monday's loss to Atlanta and has missed the past three games with a sore left forefoot. But he indicated Saturday that the injury actually occurred long before a win over Toronto last Sunday.
"It happened a while ago, I've been playing on it for two weeks," said Wallace. "The last few minutes in the Toronto game last week -- that sorta did it. [Since then I've had to] sit on it, give it a rest for a week."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that trainer Ed Lacerte indicated that the swelling had gone down in Wallace's foot, which, barring a setback, should allow him to go Monday.
"[Wallace] told me he feels good and says he wants to go through practice [Sunday] and then see how he feels," said Rivers. "Right now, I think he's going to play on Monday."
Rivers said he'll conference with Lacerte again to determine how many minutes Wallace is able to play, but does expect to limit his court time in his first game back.
Doc still targets Friday return for KG
Celtics forward Kevin Garnett worked out on the exercise bike during Saturday's session and Rivers suggested he's still on pace for a Friday return.
"Let's say he plays the Portland game, and we don't know if he will or not, but if he did play that, that's one game and then we have a practice or so to get him ready for the next one," said Rivers. "That's not a bad rhythm for him."
With the Celtics playing Wednesday night in Detroit and unlikely to practice Thursday, Rivers was asked how exactly Boston plans to get Garnett ready for Friday's game action.
"If he gets the clearance -- if Eddie [Lacerte] gives him clearance, it's not a practice, but we'll have four guys come in and do the dummy offense on [Thursday], get that in."
Garnett, sidelined with a hyperextended right knee, hasn't practiced or played since being kicked in that surgically-repaired knee in a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 28.
After a period of inactivity, he started working out again on Monday, mostly running, working on the exercise bike, and some light shooting.
Celtics keep it light at open session
Despite coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls and having lost six of their last 10 overall, the Celtics kept it light at Saturday's open session.
After playing four games in five nights, Rivers gave his team a bit of a breather. The team installed one offensive set, then utilized the rest of the session for a skills challenge that featured contests in free throws, 3-point shooting, and slam dunks.
"After watching the tape, I told the guys, I brought them in the locker room and said, 'The last thing we need to do today is practice.' They're exhausted and I don't think one day off [Friday] allows you to get your legs back. Since we have an open practice, I said, 'Let's put a little set in and then let's go have some fun, enjoy the day.'
"Sometimes during the year you have to remember why you play basketball. I thought guys were laughing and joking, and that's good for them today."
The skills challenge (which featured Eddie House topping Pierce in a 3-point shootout that spilled into overtime) culminated with J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker going head-to-head in the dunk contest. With Marquis Daniels and Wallace judging (using dry-erase boards from the sideline), Giddens brought down the house with a between-the-legs, tomahawk jam that helped him prevail.
"The between the legs one? A 10," Kendrick Perkins said when asked to grade Giddens' jam. "That was alright, especially for practice."
Perkins thought it was good for the Celtics to share some laughs after the recent rough patches.
"With some of the older guys we've got, a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes, I think we did need it," said Perkins. "It helped us out a lot. Now we can come back tomorrow and have a good [practice].
"After losses, sometimes guys can be mad at each other a little bit. Sometimes we need a little laughter in the gym, stuff like that. I think that helped us."
Perkins and Daniels stayed on the court after the session to sign autographs. Check out this photo of them greeting fans.
Pierce talks about big minutes
Paul Pierce has reached 40 minutes in four of his six games since returning from a right knee infection and, while he indicated it's not a particular concern given the fact that he's not recovering from any structural damage, Rivers noted that they have to get that number down.
"We don't need that," said Rivers. "I'll play Billy [Walker] or JR, one of them, just to get Paul some more rest. The last couple games, we've had foul trouble, and Paul's had to stay on the floor. I don't mind a couple 40-minute games from our guys, because you know you're going to make it up. In the New Jersey game, he didn't play that many minutes, but we still want to avoid [40-minute games]. If there's two or three in a week, that's too much.
"I think he needed this week. When he came back, the first thing Eddie [Lacerte] said was, 'Listen, he's in playing shape, but the leg needs to get stronger.' It's not surgery, but it is surgery when you do what they did to drain it. He needs this week, this is a good week for him."
Pierce indicated he's fine with the minutes and actually felt like the extra time has indeed helped him strengthen the knee. Given the injuries and illness the Celtics have battled, the captain's not going to say no to court time.
"It's been difficult with the injuries, but Doc's given us a couple days here to rest our legs," said Pierce. "I hope, with some of the guys coming back, that will help us out tremendously, taking down our minutes.
"In my case, [the two surgeries were] due to the infection. It wasn't like there was ligament damage. It's all about spending time in the weight room, getting on the treadmill, strengthening up my quads. Actually, playing in the game, I've gotten stronger, the last four or five games."
Giddens, the Celtics' 2008 first-round pick (30th overall), is expected to start at Paul Pierce's spot at small forward, with Tony Allen and Ray Allen combining to handle the ball with the first unit (Eddie House and Lester Hudson could assist at point guard off the bench).
Giddens, who brought in some friends and family for the experience, admitted he had some pregame nerves, but stressed this was the opportunity of a lifetime and was prepared to take advantage.
Rivers said the Celtics turned to Giddens based on his size and athleticism. Peppered with questions about Giddens' first start, Rivers seemed focused on the bigger picture.
"[The media is] far more concerned about J.R. than I am," said Rivers. "I'm more concerned about the team. J.R. understands his role on this team. This will not be the J.R. Giddens Show, but if he wants to go out and do what Nate Robinson did against the Hawks, I'm all for it."
Disgruntled Robinson, playing for the first time since Dec. 1, erupted for 41 points for the Knicks in an overtime victory Friday.
While both Rivers (without naming the player) and Giddens admitted that decision is subject to change, it appears the 2008 first-round draft pick (30th overall) with just 69 total minutes of career action, will be thrust into the starting role with Boston playing without three starters in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo.
"It's a dream come true," said Giddens, who jokingly prayed that Rivers wouldn't change his mind. "I've been working hard --working and working -- I have to go out and get it done now. Me getting this chance, it's probably the biggest chance in my NBA career. I don't even know to describe it in words."
Giddens planned to return to the Sports Authority Training Center Friday night to get in some extra shots and a run -- but stressed he didn't want to overdo it on the eve of his big chance.
"You've all seen me for last year and all of this season -- I'm anxious to get out there, share my gift with the world," said Giddens.
Rivers pulled his youngest players -- Giddens, second-year forward Bill Walker, and rookie guard Lester Hudson -- into his office Friday morning and made the announcement that Giddens would work with the first team. He also stressed how all three players must step up with Boston battling injuries.
In 21 career games, Giddens has logged 20 points and 14 rebounds. He's never played more than eight minutes in any appearance and never scored more than four points in a game.
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