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Celtics' Wilcox faces season-ending heart surgery

Posted Mar 14 2012 7:19PM - Updated Mar 14 2012 10:41PM

BOSTON (AP) -- Boston Celtics forward Chris Wilcox is scheduled to have surgery for an enlarged aorta and will miss the rest of the season.

The team announced Wednesday that the surgery should allow him to resume his career next season.

The operation is scheduled for March 29 at the Cleveland Clinic where another Celtics forward, Jeff Green, had season-ending surgery for an aortic aneurysm on Jan. 9. Doctors have said Green also should be able to play next season.

The 6-foot-10 Wilcox was the eighth pick in the 2002 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers out of Maryland. He also played center for Boston after signing as a free agent on Dec. 10 following two years with the Detroit Pistons. In 28 games this season, four of them starts, he is averaging 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds.

"While we are saddened that Chris will not be able to play again this season, the most important thing is his health, and we were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Chris's case," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.

The club said it gave the 29-year-old Wilcox frequent aortic scans because he has had an abnormality for a long time. It had remained stable during his 10-year career, but a recent scan showed "significant enlargement of his aorta," the Celtics said. The surgery was scheduled after he received additional tests.

The Celtics are very thin at center without Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal, sidelined by a wrist injury. Their only true center is rookie Greg Stiemsma, although Kevin Garnett has played there.

Coach Doc Rivers said his thoughts were with Wilcox and that he will be missed on the court.

"We have until tomorrow to see if we can extract a big from somewhere," Rivers said before the Celtics played at Golden State on Wednesday night. "But we don't want to give up anything so it's going to be tough to do. ... At the end of the day I like our team. Obviously we need a big, but let's not do anything that hurts the team this year or in the future."

In 10 seasons with six teams, Wilcox is averaging 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. His best season was 2006-07 when he started 81 games for Seattle, averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.

The Celtics said that at Wilcox's request, neither he nor it would have more comment.

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