Tuesday , Jan , 08 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Rougher Times Ahead for Pat Riley and Shaquille O’Neal?

On a day Shaquille O’Neal left the Heat for treatment on a troublesome left hip, coach Pat Riley insisted the center would be back in the lineup in short order, with the 7-footer still in the team’s long-term plans. Not only did Riley stress Monday that a long-term absence is not expected, he hinted it would not be tolerated.

‘We’re just talking about two or three treatments,’ Riley said, ‘and then I hope to have him back…’O’Neal has sat out the past five games with hip ailments sustained a month ago and aggravated two weeks later. ‘There’s going to be a time when he’s going to have to play with it,’ Riley said. ‘He’s going to have to deal with it in the future and fight through it.’ After commenting how, even at a diminished state, O’Neal still is capable of significant statistics, Riley mentioned in two radio interviews Monday that his center remains a coveted presence. Click here for more from the Sun Sentinel.