Aug 6, 2010, 10:00 AM EST
This one has been in the works for a while now, but sometime in the last 48 hours (I think) it went official: Shaquille O'Neal, billion-time All-Star and future-Hall of Famer is a member of the Boston Celtics. Shaq had sought a two-year deal for about the mid-level to play on a contender, but ultimately decided the latter portion was more important (or perhaps just more practical) than the first two. So a one-year deal for the vet minimum (about $1.5 mil–don't worry, I'm sure he can always find some loose change in the couch cushions if need be) to be Boston's (eventual) third-string center. Weird.
Can the Diesel still be a contributor on a good team? I feel like it's always useful to have a 600-pound behemoth of a center, who at the very least will continue to command a double team and put the fear of God into undersized guards brave enough to drive the lane against him well into his 60s. Yet the advanced stats showed pretty unequivocally that the Cavs were a better team last year with Shaq off the floor and on, and considering that his skill set never exactly screamed "System Guy," it's hard to know what to do with the guy when you can't just focus the entire offense around him anymore.
Regardless, the Celtics badly need big-man depth without Rasheed Wallace and (for at least half the year) Kendrick Perkins, and you never know when someone is gonna give recent signee Jermaine O'Neal too hard a look and send him back to the DL for a month or two. For the things that Shaq can provide them, the deal is really something of a steal for the C's–though of course, taking the back seat and playing his part was never a particular strong suit of Shaq Fu's, and you never knwo when things could backfire.
Still, I'm looking forward to watch the awkwardness of O'Neal riding the pine in the Green and White. I'm hoping Shaq embraces his fate in his twilight years and becomes the league's Ultimate 12th Man, whooping on the sidelines, waving towels, leading the cheers, etc. The Big Whatever's skill set on the court may be eroding, but give him semi-official Vice President in Charge of Partying and Funny Hats responsibilities, and the dude can still bring it with the best of 'em. The potential for greatness is there, certainly, in one form or the other.
Oh yeah, and yet another chance at a Kobe-Shaq finals. You know, a watched pot never boils, ABC. Quit trying to force it.
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