Save room for Shaq.
Those four words may be very key to a handful of NBA general managers and coaches who are searching for a missing piece down low.
What teams, exactly, will even be considering such a notion?
Would any team be crazy enough to take a shot at signing the big guy next season?
Let’s break it down to five squads that truly need help in the paint and under the glass—and how Shaq’s presence can make a positive impact on the team.
Where Shaquille O’Neal will actually land in 2010-11 is anyone’s guess; and for all we know, he could be on the verge of retirement.
Regardless, let’s take a look at who might hook the 7’1” center—carrying with him 17 years of NBA experience.
The Houston Rockets need all the help they can get at center.
With Yao Ming’s health status still a question mark entering the 2010-11 season, adding a big guy like Shaquille O’Neal would make sense.
First of all, Shaq can be a mentor and a leader for Yao—both on and off the court.
In addition, Shaq would also be a monster force for the Rockets in the paint, regardless of his age.
Plus, nothing can replace 17 years of NBA experience.
Although Shaq would likely play a very limited role in terms of major playing time in Houston—especially due to the Rockets fast-paced offense that Shaq may have a difficult time running—he’d still be a welcomed presence in both the locker room and in everyday practices.
The Rockets made quite a bit of noise in the 2009-10 season.
But they still fell short of the postseason.
Maybe, just maybe, Shaq could help Houston reach that stage.
Could LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal have a reunion in New York?
Sure, and Pink Floyd could also reunite and have a World Tour.
I don’t foresee either happening.
But as far as a team willing to take a risk on Shaquille O’Neal, the guys in the Big Apple may very well be the winners.
We’ll have all offseason to debate these ideas—unless, of course, Shaq retires—and it’s really up in the air at this time.
With the LeBron lottery in full swing, Shaq and his possible 18th year in the NBA may be taking a backburner.
At least until LeBron inks with a team.
Shaquille O’Neal in New Jersey may sound insane, but their new billionaire owner has also rightfully been dubbed “the Russian Mark Cuban.”
And there’s reasons for that.
With the Nets falling to No. 3 in June’s NBA Draft, I wouldn’t put anything past New Jersey right about now.
The Nets—by far the worst team in the league in the 2009-10 season—are in desperate need of help all over the hardwood.
So signing Shaq may not be out of the question as the team aims to rebuild.
The young guys on the court could always use a veteran’s helping hand or advice when it comes to the game of basketball.
That veteran may very well be O’Neal.
The winners of this year’s NBA Draft Lottery could easily chase Shaquille O’Neal to add him to a roster in need of experience.
With a team 99.9 percent likely to nab Kentucky’s John Wall in this summer’s draft, having a big guy like Shaq—with 17 years under his belt—may be a good thing for the young pups in Washington.
After a dismal 2009-10 season filled with locker room brawls and big-time trades, the Wizards will be aiming to turn things around next season.
Yes, that begins and ends with picking up Wall next month in the NBA Draft.
But adding Shaq may help.
And it may happen.
Could Shaq possibly be playing with LeBron James again—just in another city?
Sure, it could happen.
Here’s how I’m sure Chicago fans see the offseason playing out—Phil Jackson returns to coach the Bulls, James signs with the team, and Shaq agrees to play for minimal pay in hopes of (finally) bringing the King a ring.
But here’s what will likely happen—Jackson retires or returns to the comfy confines of the LA Lakers, James holds off until the last second and re-signs with Cleveland…and Shaq?
If the Bulls chase O’Neal prior to a James signing, he could still easily help a fairly young and future contending team.
The big question here is—beyond LeBron James, of course—will Shaq retire?
Or will the big guy stick it out for at least one more season in the NBA?
Only time will tell.
Four more NBA teams in need of a big guy on their roster:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Golden State Warriors
3. New Orleans Hornets
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s highly likely that a majority of these teams will take care of their big guy needs in this summer’s NBA Draft.
However, if the aforementioned teams grab a dud in June’s draft—they very well may look at the option of signing Shaq…
Yes, I know: We’re examining nearly EVERY single possible landing spot for Shaquille O’Neal.
But here are just three more teams that may bite if the price is right:
1. LA Clippers
2. Indiana Pacers
3. Utah Jazz
Although it’s not likely for Shaq to land in any of these cities, you really never know.
Can you imagine Shaq back in Los Angeles—only in a Clippers jersey?
I know the talk of the summer will center and focus on LeBron James and a free-agency class that ranks near the top.
However, if Shaq does decide to pull on an NBA jersey for his 18th season—look for him to land on a team where he’ll be used more as a mentor than a big guy averaging big minutes in games.
Shaq’s getting old, I know.
But he can still play the game.
And someone out there will sign him if he returns.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com