O’Neal, who injured his right thumb Thursday in Boston, will undergo surgery today at Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital.
The Cavaliers still don’t have a timetable for their center’s return, but such injuries normally require six to eight weeks recovery time.
Six weeks would put O’Neal back on the floor late in the regular season. Eight weeks would mean he’d return after the playoffs had started.
The 7-foot-1, 325-pound center missed 22 games after undergoing thumb surgery in 1995. The Cavaliers have exactly that many games left in the regular season, including a game against the New York Knicks tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.
O’Neal underwent an MRI late Saturday at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. He flew to Baltimore on Sunday with team physician Dr. Richard Parker to be evaluated by Dr. Thomas Graham at the National Hand Center.
Graham will perform the surgery today, with Parker assisting.
“I think we’ll be all right,” point guard Mo Williams said after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “We’ll weather the storm while Big Fella is getting some rest.
“It’s definitely something we have to deal with,” Williams added. “We’ve dealt with setbacks and injuries the whole season.”
The Cavaliers, who blew out the Celtics in the second half and then won in overtime Friday in Toronto, will continue to use Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson and Leon Powe in the middle.
“It’s a different game,” recently acquired power forward Antawn Jamison said. “You have to help out more because Shaq clogs up so much of that middle offensively and defensively.”
More help could be on the way in three weeks, as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, bought out of his contract last week by the Washington Wizards, can re-sign with the team on March 22.
One report Sunday, quoting unnamed sources, said Ilgauskas had agreed to re-sign with the Cavaliers. Another said the Denver Nuggets, who were extremely interested in signing Ilgauskas, had been told he would not accept their offer.
Also Sunday, the Cavaliers recalled rookie guard Danny Green from the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. Green averaged 25.5 points in two games with Erie , including a 36-point performance Friday against the Dakota Wizards.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.