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Shaq Considering Going Home To Play For NJ Nets

May 21, 2010 – Allen Moll

When future NBA Hall of Famer, Shaquille O’Neal, officially becomes a free agent on July 1st, surely a number of teams will have interest in signing the 7 foot, 350lb center, even though his offensive numbers (12 ppg, 6.7 rebs) last season have dipped to all-time career lows. One destination that is on the big man’s radar of possibilities is the NJ Nets, especially since they now play in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.

O’Neal, now 38 years old and the oldest active player in the NBA, has had a history of injuries. In fact he has missed more than 350 games in his long and illustrious career. When asked about is current age and the prospect of continuing to play with his ever advancing age, Shaq responded in his usual comic relief style:

“Of course I’ve missed 360 games due to injuries in my career, so by my calculations I still have 3.7 years left. That means I’m going to play until I’m 41. I’ve missed a lot of games, so I still feel that I can play.”

Because of O’Neal’s mediocre defensive play against Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett in the Cavs 2nd round loss at the hands of the Celtics, Cleveland is unlikely to resign the big man. In the end, his slower, plodding half-court game didn’t mesh well with Lebron James and the Cavaliers younger athletic wing players who are at their best in the open floor.

With New Jersey, Shaq could prove to be the perfect back-up and mentor to future NBA All-Star Brook Lopez in his latter years. Similar to a number of aging superstar big men before him like Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, and Robert Parish, Shaq has grown into his role gracefully as a back-up role player as he gets older. He apparently has accepted not being the main cog on any team, and has for a number of seasons. In fact, one would argue that as far back as ’06, O’Neal was merely the 2nd option on what was widely considered Dwyane Wade’s Miami Heat team.

Even though Shaq went to high school in San Antonio, Texas and played collegiately at LSU, he was born in Newark and still has many ties there, especially his biological father, Joseph Toney, who still resides in the “Brick City.” He also has a number of real estate investments in the area and has hopes of one day being a part owner of the Nets franchise. Last season, when he attended a NJ Devils hockey game, he was treated to a grand tour of the Prudential Center by the then current owners of the team.

O’Neal also likes the prospects of the Nets possible quick turnaround from league doormats this season to possible playoff participants next year with a plan in place to replenish the roster with a Top 5 draft pick, a big time, high priced free agent (James, Wade, or Bosh) to play alongside a few already talented young core of players like Lopez, PG Devin Harris, and exciting 2nd year player Terrence Williams, out of Louisville. Shaq would surely be a welcomed veteran presence on a young roster and could provide instant dividends next season.

But if the move does happen and since I am a resident of the East coast, I plead to Shaq, please don’t put us through the torture of having to listen to what would be his 5th rap album appropriately titled, “Going Back To Jersey!”

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own site, Hoops Haven.

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