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Shaq agrees to join Celtics, a smart gamble by both sides

Aug 4, 2010, 10:22 AM EST

Thumbnail image for shaq_o'neal.jpgIs it going to work? Maybe. Maybe not.

But it’s going to happen — Shaquille O’Neal has agreed to join the Boston Celtics according to CSN New England, ESPN’s Chris Brossard and a bunch of other sources now. This will be a one-year deal for the league minimum of $1.4 million.

Is it a good signing? Time will tell, but there are risks. Risks in terms of injuries, risks in terms of locker room chemistry, risks in terms of reputation. But risks both sides needed to take.

Shaq 2010 is not Shaq 2000. He cannot single handedly lead a team to a title (Kobe Bryant would like to point out that he couldn’t do that in 2000 either). His game is in decline, something evident the past few seasons, particularly in Cleveland last year. As Zach Lowe at Celtics Hub points out, the Cavaliers actually did better with him off the court than on it last season.

But Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal (who will start at center for Boston, at least until Kendrick Perkins returns) bring a new dimension to the Celtics — scoring from the five spot. It’s a reason Doc Rivers led the effort to get Shaq in green. Perkins was out there to defend and rebound, the other four guys on the floor had to provide the offense. Which worked very well in 2008. But last year the Celtics offense became heavily dependant on Rajon Rondo penetration to get points inside. Shaq, for all his flaws, is still able to score from the block.

Shaq is going to be a help through the All-Star break, although as Lowe points out who he plays with in the frontcourt off the bench will be interesting. Shaq and Big Baby Glen Davis may be the most obvious but it is an odd pairing. Remember, Davis was nicknamed “baby Shaq” at LSU (the college the two shared) because of a somewhat similar game. And look.

Davis and Shaq bring a lot of the same things to the floor, it’s hard to see them as a natural pairing. Kevin Garnett would be, but he will play more starters minutes and lineups.

How Shaq fits in on defense is another question. His defensive rotations are not great, and he can be exposed if forced to cover the high pick-and-roll. Boston has made its name on defense.

All that said, both sides really need each other. It’s a risk, but a risk worth taking.

Boston needed depth up front and some scoring from the five spot. Shaq may be able to give them that. Shaq needs to win again; he wants a chance at a ring for the thumb. Boston can give him that. Both are older, both need to stay healthy — or at least be healthy come playoff time — to have a chance.

If everything breaks right, it’s a gamble that could pay off. Could. But both sides needed to take the risk.

  1. terry - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    An interesting move indeed – Shaq has the smarts to acknowledge that he is no longer ‘the man’ and the Celts have the smarts to realize that he could potentially be a very valuable addition to the team. If all 3 big men can be healthy come playoff time the Celts could be in good shape with 18 fouls to give in a game from just the 5 spot. And if the O’Neal twins (ha-ha!) can stay healthy Perkins won’t have to rush his return.

  2. Lion Woods - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Shaq got yo back! the Comcast cable commercial is a pretext to life after basketball. I was hoping the Pistons would step up and sign the big fella… but the Pistons have adopted the Detroit Lions winning persona in the front office a la Matt Millen (yikes). Anyway, I think the Celtics definitely improved with the addition of Shaq.

  3. the shark - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I’m glad I didn’t buy shaqs jersey and I’m a long time lakers fan 2. Yeah Boston! Go ahead and get those ancient antique washed up players. He’ll probably get fatigue buy the end of the season. No juice left in his refrigerator.

  4. Nick Geerz - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Wonder how many white girls he will have to pay hush money to??

  5. Lakerman - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    The Big Leprechaun

  6. Chris - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    The Shark: continuing to prove that Lakers fans are the most annoying in sports.

  7. Bill-Sonora - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    An ex-Laker going to the Celtics. Makes me sick to my stomach.

  8. johnmaine - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, David Lee behind the scenes pictures from NBA 2K11 Photo Shoot in L.A. http://bit.ly/9BjLVU

  9. the vm - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Is this a good idea? Let’s see…last year, Brian Scalabrini. Next year, Shaq. The end.

  10. Kobe - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Don’t matter where he go …
    I comin for ya, Big Daddy!! Gonna put ya down, like an Ass Clown.
    Wassup Fools???
    A’ight ….

  11. Ronnie Artest - Aug 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Jermaine O’Neal deserves a ring since I kept him from one with my antics in Indiana….I feel guilty for having gotten a ring this year with the Lakers – I don’t deserve it.

  12. Haze - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM

    The Big Boston Kreme

  13. JT - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    This is great! All it really means is LA will NEVER retire Shaq’s jersey!!! Kobe will stand atop the Lakers pantheon by himself as this generations greatest Laker.

  14. Rick23 - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    I would have to agree with Bill-Sonora, an ex-Laker as a Celtic just isn’t right!

  15. Steve - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    Nick, you are a low-life bigot. People like you continue to lower the quality of the human race.

  16. Boston4Life - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    If you look at the 5 coming off of the bench: Nate Robinson at the point, Marquis Daniels at the two, Baby Davis at small forward, J Oneal at PF and Shaq at center. That’s a group that can beat a lot of teams.

  17. reuben - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    why does he have to go to contender ? face it Shaq you will never get another ring, lately youve been acting like a former hot chick at a bar that still thinks shes hot and trying to make it with that young good looking guy but its not gonna happen !

  18. mac - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Did you just mention Big Baby as a small forward? Good luck with that

  19. JohnOh - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    I don’t think professional sports has ever been more boring than it is now. Or is it just that this is the longest time in my life that I’ve been without cable…

  20. Drew - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    I still don’t understand the “locker room issues” Shaq brings. He was fine in Cleveland and Phoenix. In Miami, it was more about management who were fed up by his injuries at the end, not the players. His feud in LA was with Kobe, nobody else. Shaq is a great team player and will accept a lesser role. You don’t sign on for $1.4 million to be the man. Besides, Boston’s veterans have great leadership and they won’t tolerate a cancer on their team. With Shaq on the floor, that provides five offensive weapons. If they need a defensive lineup, they go to Perkins/Jermaine O’Neil. I don’t think there’s anything lost by making this move.

  21. Matthew - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Shaq will do nothing but get in Rondo and Pierce’s way.
    I love the old man, but come’on. He would be much smarter (and classier) to go to a young team with some up and coming talent that he can player/coach. Instead he is only defaming his own legacy by insisting on going to a team that can “compete for a title”.
    Hey Shaq, wake up!!! If YOU are on the team, they probably can’t “compete for a title”!!!

  22. GMan - Aug 4, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Can not believe a Laker would become a Celtic. Shaq you are shameless.

  23. Lester - Aug 4, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    There is something kind of sacrilege about former Lakers playing for the Celtics and vice versa.

  24. T. Rogers - Aug 4, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Rick Fox spent half his career with Boston and then won titles in LA. So this is not the first time a player has bounced between the two teams. But a franchise player like Shaq? This has to be a first. Could anyone have seen Robert Parish or James Worthy exchanging one team for the other? Between this and the “superfriends” down in Miami we KNOW these are different times.

  25. Mack - Aug 4, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Truly sad that Shaq can’t retire and just let it go. He keeps jumping to these teams that feel he will get them a ring because of his offensive BULK. But unfortunately the last 4 years have proven that he is a LIABILITY on pick and roll defense. The only reason the Celtics have a ring in the past 20 years was because of their D. You think the Lakers, Magic, or Heat won’t use that play over and over again when Shaq is on the court? If he couldn’t help the team with the BEST record in the NBA the last 2 years what makes them think he will help a defensive minded team.

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