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According to Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics are reportedly one of the finalists to sign free agent big man Jermaine O’Neal, along with the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. The C’s and Nuggets are believed to have offered O’Neal a two-year deal at the midlevel exception for $5.8 million per year.
Wojnarowski said that O’Neal is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Celtics. If he does, he would fill a void left by the injured Kendrick Perkins and the expected retirement of Rasheed Wallace.
The 31-year-old O’Neal 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Heat last season. He reportedly could come to his decision Wednesday or Thursday night.
O’Neal is a far, far cry from what he used to be, when he was the best young big man in the game in his days with the Pacers. Over a six-year period from 2001-2007, Jermaine O’Neal averaged at least 19.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and collected 10 boards per game three times in that stretch.
The bright side for O’Neal joining the Celtics? He no longer has to be matched up against him. Perk has dominated O’Neal throughout his career, and with O’Neal getting older and Perk getting better, I would expect that to continue…maybe just in Celtics practice instead of an actual game.
These days, O’Neal isn’t capable of being the top option or second option on a team. Hell, he’s not capable of being the third option. With the Celtics, however, the 6’11″ O’Neal would fill in as the starting center and would be the fifth offensive option on the floor. While his defense isn’t close to Perk’s, O’Neal should be able to hold his own alongside Kevin Garnett. He also is more capable of running up and down the floor than his brother from another mother, Shaquille O’Neal.
Do you support the potential O’Neal signing?