BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Delonte West is expected to miss at least two months after suffering a severe fracture to his right wrist, two team sources said Wednesday night.
It's a big loss for the defending Eastern Conference champs, who were counting on West to help lead a second unit to relieve the burden on the starting five. Though West shoots left-handed and could eventually play with a cast, the injury left coach Doc Rivers to express hope that West could return in time for the playoffs. "It's a compound fracture, most likely,'' said Rivers. "It's going to be a long time, let's put it that way.''
West, a 6-foot-3 combo guard, was expected to provide backup minutes to starting point guard Rajon Rondo. Boston will hope to replace his defense and three-point shooting with 6-2 rookie Avery Bradley, the Celtics' first-round pick who made his debut Monday in Atlanta after undergoing ankle surgery last summer.
"That's tough,'' said Rivers. "Avery has had three full practices this season. He's a rookie and you're going to throw him out there on the floor. But that's what we have.''
Rondo has missed the last two games with a strained left hamstring, and Rivers was leaning toward holding him out of Boston's game Friday against Toronto in order to avoid the likelihood of reinjury.
In the meantime, the Celtics will continue to rely on 5-9 point guard Nate Robinson and 6-6 swingman Marquis Daniels, who combined for 8 assists and 2 turnovers on a night when 38 year old Shaquille O'Neal dominated the Nets with 25 points (on 10 shots) and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes.
After serving a 10-game suspension to open the season, West had played four games while providing hope that he would become an important contributor off the bench. He went down with 2:43 remaining in the first half and had to be helped to the locker room in obvious pain. "This is a blow,'' said Kevin Garnett. "We're going to deal with it, like always.''