Wilcox returns to full-contact practice

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics forward/center Chris Wilcox returned to full-contact practice activities Sunday, testing his injured right thumb for the first time since being shelved in mid-December.

Wilcox sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb on Dec. 18 in Chicago while bracing himself during a fall to the court. He engaged in some shooting activities with the team before Thursday's practice, but Sunday's session was expected to be a chance to gauge where he's at with his rehabilitation.

"I'm going to get out there and just see what I can do," Wilcox said before the afternoon session. "The other day I got out there and did some shots and layups and stuff like that with the team. So, today, try to get more active, just take it one day at a time."

Wilcox playfully celebrated the ability to once again palm the basketball, a step in his recovery, but admitted he's still uncomfortable given the injury is to his dominant hand.

"Look, I'm back in action," Wilcox joked while palming the ball. "So, like I said, I'm just going to go out, get a good practice in, play a little defense, push off and things like that and that will let me know where I'm at.

"It's still sore, but it's going to be like that for a while, so I'm just trying to do whatever I can and just get back out here on the court and then see what I can go through and see what's comfortable."

Kevin Garnett thinks Sunday's session will be good for Wilcox.

"This is when you need practice times right here for guys who haven't been in the flow of things," Garnett said. "It's good to have him back. Today should be a very interesting, passionate day, so it's good to have Chris back."

When it was noted to Wilcox that he can't deliver his typically emphatic right-handed jams, Wilcox quipped, "I'm going to have to just go all left."

As for a return timeline, he said he'll use Sunday's session to get a better handle on that.

"I don't know, that's why I want to get a couple of practices in before I just jump out there and try to play in a game," Wilcox said. "I think today will be the first day for me to go out there and just see exactly where I'm at."

"I think we just want him to go up and down, see what he can do," coach Doc Rivers said.

Rivers said the team isn't worried about its big-man depth, even with veteran center Jason Collins playing through a nagging hamstring injury and Wilcox having missed nearly a month at this point.

"We’re always looking [for big men]," Rivers said. "If there were bigs out there, there would be a long line of teams looking. There's not a lot. I’m comfortable."

Asked if the team might explore another short-term, 10-day contract option, similar to how the Celtics brought in Jarvis Varnado of the D-League, Rivers hinted nothing was in the offing.

"We just did one -- then Miami signed the guy," Rivers cracked. "I actually liked Jarvis a lot; he could have been a guy that hung around and all that. We just couldn’t do it."

As for Wilcox, he's used the time away from the court to further improve his conditioning.

"When you're hurt, that's all you've got to do is conditioning," he said. "Every day -- conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. I know my conditioning should be there, so now it's just trying to get back right, back into playing shape."