O’Neal will miss the rest of the regular season and likely the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Cleveland’s regular season ends on April 14, and the best-case scenario could have O’Neal back for the start of the playoffs. Regardless, he is expected to return before the Cavs would have to potentially face their most difficult conference test: Dwight Howard(notes) and the Orlando Magic.
O’Neal, 37, will have surgery at the National Hand Center in Baltimore on Monday. In his absence, the Cavs will continue to start Anderson Varejao(notes) at center. Leon Powe(notes) will also share minutes.
The Cavaliers traded backup center Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Washington Wizards in the deal for Antawn Jamison. Ilgauskas was waived last week and can't be re-signed by the Cavs until March 22.