Jermaine O'Neal and Phoenix Suns Agree to 1-Year Contract

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IAugust 15, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22:  Jermaine O'Neal #7 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the New York Knicks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns have just locked up a serviceable backup center at an affordable price.

According to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, the Suns and aging center Jermaine O’Neal have come to terms on a one-year deal worth $1.35 million (the veteran’s minimum).

If O’Neal can avoid the numerous ailments and injuries that have plagued him in recent seasons, he will be a great replacement for Robin Lopez.

The Suns needed a big man off the bench behind starting center Marcin Gortat, especially after flipping Lopez in a three-team trade with New Orleans and Minnesota that netted swingman Wesley Johnson and a first-round pick.

O’Neal has career numbers of 13.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks, but only saw action in 49 games over the past two seasons with the Boston Celtics. He averaged 5.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per contest in just 20.4 minutes.

Should the former Indiana Pacers star somehow rejuvenate himself and get healthy (something that isn’t outside of the realm of possibility with the Suns' wonderful medical staff), he’s got a chance to be a much better backup than Lopez ever was.

The 33-year-old is probably the last major acquisition the Suns will make this summer, as they already traded for Johnson and Michael Beasley and signed Goran Dragic as part of a roster makeover following the Steve Nash trade.

It’s a new era in Phoenix, and while J.O. likely won’t stick around long, he’ll help this team remain competitive during the rebuilding effort.

For the veteran’s minimum, Suns GM Lance Blanks could not ask for much more.