In fact, people around the future Hall of Famer say he wants to play two — even three — more seasons.
And he could very well play them in Boston.
League sources tell ESPN’s Chris Broussard that the Celtics, Hawks and Mavericks have all shown interest in signing O’Neal, an 18-year veteran, at the midlevel exception ($5.8 million). An AOL Fanhouse report, in fact, cites sources who say Atlanta already has an offer on the table: Two years, starting at the MLE.
While O’Neal’s agent is denying that report, the buzz has begun.
And both the outrage and excitement expressed by Celtics fans about such a possibility got us thinking: What are the pros (and cons) of landing the big man in Beantown?
Pro: Even at 38, O’Neal remains an efficient scorer, putting up 12 points in just 23 minutes of play last season with the Cavaliers. Hate to speak badly of Kendrick Perkins as he’s recovering from an injury, but he’s a bit of an oaf. Great defender, but little offense. O’Neal could add that dimension to Boston’s low post.
Con: There’s a reason Shaq is doing Icy Hot ads. Guy played just 53 games for Cleveland last year, and 61 for the Heat and Suns two years before that. And his numbers over that span have gradually degenerated, from a high of 30 points, 14 boards in 1999-2000 with Los Angeles to 12 and seven in 2009-10.
Pro: He’d fill the void while Perk is out, which could be for another six months from now, and would give the Celtics something they haven’t had in a long time: a true, 7-foot-1, 325-pound beast in the middle. Think about all the paint he could consume on defense.
Con: What happens when Perkins comes back? Shaq has never been one to take a backseat, unless it’s to Dwyane Wade. Team chemistry would no doubt be at risk, if either Perk or O’Neal feels he’s not getting enough play.
Pro: The 15-time All Star loves the Celtics. He fawns over Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett, and gave Paul Pierce his nickname, "The Truth."
O’Neal has made it clear, moreover, that he’ll only sign with a contender. He has a fifth ring on his mind, and this is undoubtedly his last chance to get it. Don’t think for a second that won’t raise his level of play.
Con: He ain’t much of a runner. It’s why the Phoenix Suns dumped him — too slow for their fast-break approach. The thing is, the more Rajon Rondo takes over this team, the more that’ll be the Celtics’ approach, as well. Shaq doesn’t exactly fit into that plan.
Pro: O’Neal hates Kobe Bryant. Always has, even when they played together. He’d like nothing more than to get on stage again to ask Kobe how his a#@ tastes.
And the C’s could help him get there. Add Shaq to Boston’s roster for this past Finals, and I’d say it’s Boston in five. He adds the size Boston lacked against the likes of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and he could have put a stop to the Celts’ bleeding defensive rebounding.
Keeping all that in mind, what do you think of bringing the Shaqtus to Boston? Assuming he gets two years, $11.6 million (that’s the MLE rate), and assuming Perkins can’t return until December, would you sign him?