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Celtics Close to Signing Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal Boston Celtics

August 3, 2010 – Dr. Anklesnap

According to multiple sources, including the following from David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com, it looks like the Boston Celtics and veteran Shaquille O’Neal are very close to agreeing on a contract for next season.

The Boston Celtics were “close” on Tuesday, according to a league source, to signing center Shaquille O’Neal for next season.

The Celtics, the source said, have told O’Neal that he has to come off the bench next season, and that O’Neal said he could accept a reserve role for the first time in his career. The three-time Finals MVP has not had many suitors this summer that had either the playing time or money to offer him, and O’Neal is running out of places that can give him a chance to compete for a championship as his career draws to a close. {via}

It doesn’t surprise me that Shaquille O’Neal would want to play for the Boston Celtics. They are a team of veterans that have further championship aspirations and a core of mature, refined players that know how to get it done. But what does surprise me is that Shaq would be willing to come off the bench behind Jermaine O’Neal. It would be one thing if it was the Jermaine O’Neal from his days with the Pacers when he was one of the league’s top talents, but instead its the hobbled Jermaine O’Neal who is oft-injured, slow, and limited in offensive effectiveness.

Shaq may not be one of the top center’s in the league anymore, but he did put up a respectable 13 ppg and 7 rpg last season in limited minutes with the Cavaliers. Oh and did I mention he shot 56% from the field? Therefore to Shaq’s credit he still would be justified in starting for the Celtics over Jermaine O’Neal in the absence of Kendrick Perkins during his recovery.

Celtics fans will likely be thinking ‘WTF?!’ when they hear the news that Shaq may be signing with their team. But on sober second thought they will realize that if Shaq does agree to a limited role in the regular season, it could mean big things for them come playoff time. The Celtics will need all the big bodies they can get to deal with the Dwight Howard’s, Chris Bosh’s, and with a little luck Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum’s of the league.

The Celtics are also likely thinking about the Offense/Defense possibilities of having two O’Neals on their roster. Jermaine O’Neal may be limited offensively due to his knee, but he’s still a solid shot blocker and defensive specialist as he’s proven the last few years with the Heat and Raptors. And what better way to complement that defense than to have the Big Diesel come off the bench and attack their opponents in the paint, getting opposing big men in foul trouble night in and night out. Although his free throw shooting is suspect, you can’t argue with a perennial 60% shooter from the field.

The Celtics aren’t getting any younger, so although this move would make them one of the oldest NBA team’s of all time, it makes sense for one final run with their ‘Big Three’ at the chip.

**Update** – The Boston Celtics have officially announced the signing of Shaquille O’Neal (August 4, 2010)

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