With free agency in full force and some of the top names off the board, NBA teams are starting to look at role players that can anchor their team.
No one wants to be the Cavaliers.
While some franchises have tons of cap space to sign the LeBrons and Wades, many are strapped for cash and have to dig in the bargain basement to find a supporting cast.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “If you keep digging, you’re gonna reach China!”
For free agency’s bargain bin, replace “China” with Jermaine O’Neal.
The former All-Star power forward saw his best days in Indiana, but hopes to rekindle some of that fire in 2010-2011. But what teams will take a flyer on him?
Let’s check it out.
Weight: 255 lbs.
Experience: 13 years
Age: 31 (32 when season starts)
2009-2010 Statistics: 28.4 mpg, 13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 52 percent FG
Now many people may look at that line and go, “Hey that’s not that bad!”
Please look at his 2010 playoff stats:
23.4 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 20 percent FG
That’s bad. Kwame Brown bad.
Therein lies the problem for Jermaine O’Neal. Looking at his season stats, he’s beyond a serviceable big man. He can fill the paint, play solid defense, and has strong post moves to fill it up.
But on the other hand, the former Eau Claire High School star is getting older. In his past three seasons, he’s only played in more than half the games once. He is a bit injury prone and his numbers have declined since his glory days.
That being said, he’s no Eddy Curry. O’Neal can at least hold a basketball.
So who will be looking for O’Neal’s services for the fall?
Celtics fans are probably growling in anger at the picture.
Works for me.
But if the Celtics management wants to ease the pain, they need to find a way to replace Kendrick Perkins. Boston’s center tore his ACL in the NBA Finals, and their lack of height and strength down low after the injury cost them a chance at their 18th banner.
Or maybe it was Ron Artest.
I can twist the knife all day long, Beantown.
So why not look at O’Neal? He definitely won’t demand more than the mid-level exception, and the C’s need bigs. Rasheed Wallace’s retirement coupled with Perkins’ injury makes the demand for a center higher than ever.
And if they were willing to take Mr. Lazy himself in Wallace, they will have no problems with O’Neal.
It’s strange that O’Neal would be third biggest giant if added to his picture.
I hear Prokhorov throws up the Roc all the time, so Jay-Z is number one.
But these two businessmen have a plan in mind for their team. They want to secure some big time free agents and surround them with a cast that knows the game inside and out.
And even though O’Neal is past his prime, he has plenty of experience.
Currently, the frontcourt for the Nets consists of Brook Lopez, Derrick Favors, and Terrence Williams. Jermaine O’Neal has played in nearly three times as many games as those three combined and can teach these youngsters how to play down low.
But don’t ask for a hands-on demonstration. O’Neal can tear a ligament by just attempting to jump, so he stopped doing it a long time ago.
When you talk about big men who get injured frequently, you have to talk about the Portland Trailblazers.
Greg Oden, Joel Pryzbilla, and Marcus Camby have so many injuries, it’s amazing scientists haven’t discovered new bones for the three of them to break.
Jermaine, come join the club!
But on the other hand, if O’Neal stays healthy, he could be a great fit in Portland. Playing in the Western Conference against the bigs of the Lakers, Mavericks, Nuggets, etc., requires a lot of serviceable size.
O’Neal has it.
And his defense would need to come along too. He can help LaMarcus Aldridge keep the opponent’s power forwards out of the middle with his strength that the Pacers remember so well.
No need to cry, Dirk, help is on the way!
Actually, you can cry about your team’s performance in the playoffs.
Nowitzki and Co. just can’t find a way to stop San Antonio, despite the fact the impact players for the Spurs are getting older than Regis Philbin.
The Mavs flopped big time against the Spurs this year, officially making it to okay to call Tim Duncan their Kryptonite. They added talent in Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson, but still couldn’t match the likes of George Hill, DeJuan Blair, and Matt Bonner.
Bonner has been spotted more time in this article than in NBA games.
But with Haywood possibly leaving for a bigger deal in free agency, the Mavs need a center. They can’t go back to the man without hands in Erick Dampier, so O’Neal would be an excellent get.
They tried to sign Marcin Gortat last year and failed when Orlando inexplicably matched their offer. With O’Neal, they can essentially get him on a trial run, and if he doesn’t work out, move on in 2011.
Plus, he can’t possibly be worse offensive than Dampier, can he?
Yes, O’Neal isn’t completely finished, but could it be his time to head off into the sunset?
If he wants, he can do it all slow-like. John Wayne style.
While no NBA player wants to call it quits so early, O’Neal’s body of work lately has taken a downward turn. His averages have dropped and his playoff numbers make him as attractive as a night with Star Jones’ back fat.
Or leg fat. Or thigh fat.
He’s also been extremely susceptible to injuries. Whether it’s unlucky, stupid, or just part of the game, O’Neal seems to have Grant Hill syndrome. He did play 70 games this season, but his body appears to be breaking down quite a bit.
Is it worth risking the next 50 or 60 years of his life to play one more in the NBA?
People are worried about Phil Jackson being able to stand on the bench. I’m worried that at Jackson’s age, O’Neal may not even be able to stand.