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Celtics "close" to signing Shaquille O'Neal

Aug 3, 2010, 4:39 PM EDT

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast SportsNet, the Celtics are “close” to signing free agent center Shaquille O’Neal to a contract.

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Cavs have not been talking to the Celtics about a sign-and-trade, so this deal is very likely to be for the veteran minimum of $1.4 million.

Yes, Shaq is old. Yes, Shaq is still ring-chasing. Yes, Shaq will be a big personality/ego on a team whose locker-room dynamics are fairly well-established. And yes, the Celtics made Shaq look as old and out-of-place as he ever has during least season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals. This was not a risk-free signing for the Celtics by any stretch of the imagination. 
Even with all of that, this move could have some benefits for the Celtics. The Celtics need a big body because of Kendrick Perkins’ injury, and Shaq certainly provides that. If the Celtics meet the Lakers or the Magic in the playoffs, they will now have two players capable of guarding Bynum and Howard one-on-one. With Kevin Garnett’s dead-eye mid-range shooting in the starting lineup, the Celtics have much better front-line personnel to compliment Shaq than the Cavaliers did. Shaq is a smart enough player and a good enough passer to work with Rondo and the “Big Three” effectively. 
Also, remember that Shaq had a very strong two months before he broke his thumb in a regular-season game against the Celtics, and was signed to help the Cavaliers match up with the Magic. Just like the Jermaine O’Neal signing, one reason this move looks bad for the Celtics is that the Celtics themselves played an instrumental role in lowering Shaq’s value. Shaq couldn’t match up with the Celtics in last year’s playoffs, but that won’t be a problem for him next season. 
The real question is whether Shaq will accept his role as a situational player on the Celtics. Will he move to the bench after Kendrick Perkins’ rehab on his knee is complete? Will he accept the fact that both Jermaine O’Neal and Perkins will be better options than him against some teams? Can he accept that the Celtics’ locker room is run by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen? If anyone can manage these problems, it’s Doc Rivers, but it should still be a concern for Boston fans. 
Shaq can be a very good role player, and he may be joining a team that can use a very good role player. If Shaq can accept his limitations, this could be the shot in the arm the Celtics needed to be championship competitors this season. If not, the last ride of the “Big Three” could turn ugly. 
  1. bballfan - Aug 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    wow east celtic green just maybe got scarier, he may be older but he is still one the most dominate men in the game and with the outside presence of the rest of the green gang if i were bulls and magic and heat id be looking a little nervous, now lets see shaq put aside his ego and they will see the lakers in the finals again

  2. Hank - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    More significant than Garnett’s shooting is his height. This is what makes his midrange game possible, and the Celtics difficult to defend when they have another player at the center position on the floor.

  3. KFactor - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Heat fans worried??? Illgauskas will kill Shaq, you think Shaqs going to defend his 10 -12 foot jumper. Yea granted Shaqs huge but He can’t run with the Heat. The only match up the Heat fans should Be worried about is Chalmers vs Rondo. In the scenario the Heat will probably put Wade on Rondo and have Chalmers chase after Ray Allen. For the Heat the East is a Guarantee, just be worried for the Lakers, Heat in 7

  4. john maine - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    favre’s retirement rumors hurt harvin and rice’s fantasy value:

  5. nick - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    the writers on this site clearly favor the lakers and always slander the celtics…scroll down a few posts and you’ll see “Top 10 Lakers plays of the playoffs”. How is this a high risk move? We got a guy for minimum salary that just last year was supposed to put the cavs over the top and now its deemed a high risk move? if you read the report shaq has agreed to come off the bench, JO will start and when Perk comes back it’s his job with Shaq and JO coming in off the pine and JO can also play the 4 for kg. and the whole clubhouse cancer thing is just media propaganda you need something to write. everywhere shaqs been hes made friends (other than egotistical kobe)and if theres a coach to manage all these personalities how many times has doc river proven hes the best coach in the league at it. i dunno about you but i dont know too many teams in this league that wouldnt take one of top 3 big men of all time for that salary…gimme a break go suck off kobe alittle harder

  6. Jay - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    I cant front , this does make them better but it by no means make them dominant. with the exception of rondo that starting lineup is still VERY old. and Shaq couldnt defend tha pick & roll last year to save his life so Celtics fans better hope J.O and K.G’s knees hold up or else their done, And for all the C’s fans that were sayin miami were gonna struggle with all their new players still Gelling. Tell Rondo to ask Nash & James how clogged that lane is wen shaqs on the court. that being said with the exception of ur energy guy big baby, and losing tony allen u have no lock down defenders on your bench – wafer, Lil nate, arent stopping anybody and J.O is a Huge defensive liability, he can barely jump ( see last years playoffs) i still think they need wing defenders to guard teams like chicago and miamis wing players or else teams will jus wait for K.G and Shaq to Tire themselves out

  7. mick-7-1961 - Aug 3, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Celts signed Shaq? So?

  8. Zachariah Blott - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    Not even a few days ago, it seemed these talks were dead. I’m curious how well the veteran-lead Celtics can keep Shaq’s ego/mouth/silliness in check.

  9. loungefly - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    The Lakers won the championship…that’s a big reason why they are talking about them. It wouldn’t make sense to make a “top 10 plays” for any other team…they lost. Personally, I think Shaq would be a great pick-up…the writer was just concerned with the media circus that follows Shaq and how it can disrupt the locker room. I agree, Doc is very capable of keeping the guys in check…just, there is that risk though. ya never know what could happen. Again, at the vet’s minimum, I agree, the risk is worth it. As far as the Lakers, they are favored to come out of the west again, a great reason to mention them.
    @bballfan…agree, other teams in the east should worry a little more about the celtics.
    @KFactor…don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Celtic fans should be pumped up as they are gunning for a 3rd finals appearance in 4 years. Until, the Heat get there, not a whole lot of clout to go on…
    This is going to be a very interesting season. I love this game!

  10. not a heat hater - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:16 PM

    amazing how your ready to hand the eastern crown to an unproven trio with a bunch of bench cast offs yeah thats rigth cast offs lets face it the celts are older but they are road proven and true warriors and except for dwade i cant put my faith in anyone else on the heat, personally heat will need to get past teams like orlando, which couldnt get past the celtics, but i laff the most cuz you mentioned big z oh god gimme a break they brought shaq in bcuz z is non existant when it comes to defense at least shaq has heart and can body up anyone and with the celts outside game and davis perkins jo and perkins they have outside and inside presence so uhm who is the inside presence for heat…big z hahahah now that is funny…until proven different lakers will get thier 17th crown

  11. sandiego1969 - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Running the floor in a wheel chair is probably not kosher.

  12. Frank - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    I would make him lose weight, stop weight training except to tone and start running before ever signing him. And watch what he eats.

  13. what? - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    What have you be smokin, J not S O’neal will play Z and handle him like the washed up tag along he is. Heat can’t match up with the Magic but the Celts got an answer for everybody in the east. Lakers own this league in 2011.

  14. Yosef - Aug 3, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    I don’t think you’ll have time to watch what he eats.

  15. Tony - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    Instead of green gang it should be gang green!

  16. Todd - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    Please. It’s defense that wins championships, not offense. The East was supposed to be a “guarantee” for the Cavs the last two seasons. Don’t crown your champions before they hatch. You don’t even know if the “three-headed s-itstorm” can play together yet.

  17. Alfer33 - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    The C’s signing Shaq will help them. He won’t have to run that much as he won’t be expected to especially coming off of the bench. This will keep his minutes down so he’s not dead come playoff time. Plus the C’s half court O would suit him just fine. He’s still enough of a defensive presence to be effective and he certainly has a better O game than Perkins does along with better hands and is a better passer. So getting him cheap is no brainer! Orlando hasn’t improved themselves that much and Miami will still have questions as to whether their stars can play together. Plus their bench isn’t that strong so they by no means are a lock for the East crown. And if one of their stars gets injured toward the end of the year they’ll be in big trouble.

  18. Anonymous - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Start making those Celtics/Heat Eastern Conference Championship T-Shirts….Because I don’t even think the Magic will be able to compete with these two. Come on, the only other team beside the magic that even stand a “chance” are the Bulls. It’s a four team going on two conference. Besides, I even said it earlier and I’ll say it now. With Perkins out, this will make him trade bait. Especially with Glen Davis in the wing. The Celtics will do fine with J O’Neil Starting, and Davis and S. O’Neil as other front men, giving Garnett time to take a breather in between. Perkins is OUT with this team, C’s are just realizing this, being smart and moving on.

  19. Brian - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Shaq still has it, and will be a huge asset to the club for sure! There was talk of one of Shaq’s girlfriends posing n_de on the blog, and maybe that will be a distraction for him and his wife this year!

  20. Lounge-lizzard - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Shaq is back…Koby is going to be taken to school in the Finals as the Green Machine wins NBA CHAMPIONSHIP 18

  21. james - Aug 3, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    JO will play when center play is needed away from the paint. The multiple interchangeable line-ups available with Shaq/Perk/JO and KG/JO/Sheed will be dictated by the style of play being thrown at the Celtics game by game. Shaq can play a high post for picks for Rondo/PP/RA and in two steps be at the rim for rebounding. This would be a great signing and help Shaq let Kobe taste his….Go Cs…

  22. skeptimystic - Aug 3, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    I had hoped that Shaq would exhibit some class and not join the Celtics. Any team but the Celtics. Purely out of Laker pride. If Shaq joins the Celtics, his number 34 will NEVER be lifted to the rafters of Staples Center. Too bad his actions will be remembered more than his play…No doubt that Shaq will help the Celtics. This is a good pick up for them and there were no rumblings in Cleveland concerning ego conflicts with Lebron James. Even this Laker fan can admit that Doc River has a good group of seasoned veterans (and R. Rondo) who will be a force in the East. But come the 2011 finals, the will and skill of Kobe Bryant along with his cast of characters will prevail. I love this game!

  23. John D - Aug 3, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Go Celts sign Shaq…its like Bill Walton…

  24. Ron Armstrong - Aug 3, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    Shaq ass-et will be a huge.

  25. annie - Aug 3, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    This fan-since-Cousy-with-my-Dad will be OK with Shaq. He’s the only reason I was happy to see his Lakers win first championship in LA. Give us Big Baby, Celts win in a close one, no doubt. At this point in his career Shaq is cagy to go with a team who could help him win again and would be, in my humble opinion, a team player. Why not Shaq? Big Baby is out for a while…bring on the Shaq and Donkey Show! Big Three will do what they do, baby, and Shaq will fit in. Doc will know what to do..he always does. Go, Celtics!

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