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Comcast Sportsnet New England’s Sherrod Blakely has reported that Shaquille O’Neal has agreed to join the Celtics. The current Boston lineup now consists of more starpower and surefire Hall-of-Famers than even Miami, only these guys are all on the back end of their productive careers. With Celtics general manager Danny Ainge on vacation, an official press conference is expected to take place next week to announce the signing.
O’Neal will join the team for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million, as the next-closest team, Atlanta, pulled out when the felt his asking price was too steep. The move shows, as Blakely noted, how much the Celtics and O’Neal needed each other. With Kendrick Perkins’ injury and absence, the C’s were in need of size while O’Neal wants to win one more title. As he told Jimmy Kimmel, he only plans to play for two more years, which also happens to be the exact size of the Celtics current window. He obviously wasn’t going back to Miami, Atlanta was a dead end, and the Kobe factor can’t be discounted, either. Imagine how insane a possible rematch of last year’s Finals could become? Not only would O’Neal have a chance to beat Bryant wearing a Celtics uniform, a win would prevent the Lakers from tying the Celtics in championships, but it would also give Shaq a fifth ring to tie Kobe in that department.
“For me, it’s been a real thinking process,” O’Neal told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “I came into the league very graciously and want to go out very graciously. My main thought was I would like to play for a winning franchise, somebody that’s used to winning, somebody that keeps winning.”
The Celtics are the epitome of a winning franchise, and with their recent success, they currently possess a lot of guys that are used to winning. O’Neal gives them yet another big body and the 2010-2011 Celtics are going to be huge. As was witnessed in last spring’s playoffs, the Celtics can play the role of big, nasty bully whenever the time calls for it. Expect them to coast through regular season yet again, but when the playoffs roll around, they’ll be awfully comfortable.