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The Celtics are going to sign another O’Neal, and this one casts a mammoth shadow. ESPN.com has now reported that a contract may be hammered out as early as Tuesday night or Wednesday. One possible sticking point could be that the Celtics can only sign O’Neal to the veteran minimum of $1.35 million for a veteran of 10-plus NBA seasons, unless a sign-and-trade is executed with Cleveland. Either way, O’Neal will get his, and will likely be wearing green by the end of the week. O’Neal went public with his desire to play in Boston earlier this week in an appearance on a late night talk show.
When Shaq appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live Monday night, the show’s eponymous host pointedly asked the big man questions about his future. Introduced as “gigantic and gregarious,” O’Neal made it clear from the beginning he was ready to make some noise.
“Right now I’m on the 730-day program, which means I have two years left,” said O’Neal. “So I’m going to try to sign with the right team…”
Kimmel jabbed back, saying he couldn’t imagine Shaq wearing Celtic Green, but the Diesel was undeterred. “Celtics would be a good program,” said O’Neal.
“That would be a good place to go?” Kimmel asked. O’Neal answered, “Yes, it would.”
Kimmel went on to take a backhanded swipe at wearing a Boston uniform again, and then took a shot at O’Neal saying, “But I guess by your attire [tonight], you don’t feel weird about putting on any type of clothing.” O’Neal playfully admitted Kimmel got him, but his message was already sent.
Comcast SportsNet New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely is reporting that the 15-time All-Star is nearing an agreement with the Celtics. David Aldridge of TNT and TBS has also confirmed the report. The Celtics are believed to be negotiating a contract with O’Neal and on Tuesday, ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption echoed the sentiment. ESPN’s crawl said the same, crediting not only Comcast SportsNet New England, but also the mighty NBA.com.
It looks like O’Neal’s comments to Kimmel were not in jest, by the time you read this, Shaquille O’Neal may become a member of the Boston Celtics. As Tony Kornheiser noted, the move would then give the Celtics five players from the 2004 NBA All-Star Game.