Impact of Jermaine O'Neal Loss on Boston Celtics

Patrick BusconeSenior Analyst IMarch 19, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16:  Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Boston Celtics grabs a rebound away from Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 89-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chris Forsberg recently announced via his Twitter account that the Boston Celtics will be without starting center Jermaine O'Neal for the remainder of the season due to complications with his wrist.

Although this news should come as no surprise given the amount of time that O'Neal has missed this season, it doesn't take away from the negative impact this will have on a Celtics team that was thin in the frontcourt before it lost Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal.

This is not to say that either O'Neal or Wilcox were the answer to the Celtics frontcourt problems or even that they were even better than serviceable, but the fact of the matter is that the Celtics are now left paper-thin at the four and the five.

Heck, Greg Stiemsma, who has spent the majority of his time in his warm-ups on the end of the bench, is the only active center left on the roster.

And did I mention that this Celtics team was 30th in the league in rebounding with both Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox?

It's hard to get worse from there, but it seems that is inevitable for the Celtics at this point. So this brings up the glaring point that the Celtics need frontcourt help, and they needed it yesterday yet again.

Unfortunately, it is not quite the cream of the crop available out there.

For all of O'Neal's shortcomings, he knew the system and could play defense. Any big man available may be on an equal skill level as O'Neal, but none of them (with the exception of Rasheed Wallace) know the Celtics system, which is not easy to learn on the fly.

It is not all bad news though.

With O'Neal out of the way, Brandon Bass has secured his rightful spot in the starting lineup for seemingly the rest of the season and Kevin Garnett will be able to continue to play center—a position he seems to thrive in.

Also, rookies JaJuan Johnson and Greg Stiemsma will get more time and be able to develop more.

But all in all, this is a big hit for the Celtics, not necessarily because O'Neal was so important, but because without him, the Celtics are left searching much more frantically for help in the frontcourt—help that may never come.