Most of the hype from the busiest free agency period in recent memory is over, but there are still players who are searching for a home—including future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
O’Neal is 38-years-old and the oldest active player in the NBA, but he feels like he still can contribute. Last season he averaged 12 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game alongside LeBron James in Cleveland.
Over his 18-year career, Shaq has won four rings, three with the Lakers and one with the Heat. Now check out which teams could sign the big man for a shot at a fifth ring.
O’Neal thinks that he has two years left in his tank, and when star athletes get to the tail-end of their career, they usually want to play for their hometown team—in Shaq’s case the San Antonio Spurs.
O’Neal played his high school ball in San Antonio for Robert G. Cole High School before he played at Louisiana State University.
Now, he is hoping to return to San Antonio to help the end the Spur’s struggle with Championship futility.
The Spurs have seemed less than interested in O’Neal considering they are trying to make their team younger, but O’Neal could be the big man that the Spurs desperately need in the paint.
DeJuan Blair, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess have rotated playing center and forward, but none of them are strictly centers like O’Neal.
O’Neal could provide some quality minutes and mentor younger players like DeJuan Blair to be the next NBA greats.
O’Neal has also expressed his interest in the Boston Celtics according to published reports.
However, it sounds like Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations for the Celtics, might have already made up his mind on Shaq with his recent statements to ESPN.
"We've had conversations and we have ongoing conversations with Shaquille," Ainge said according to ESPN. "In order to get Shaquille it would have to be a sign-and-trade situation. That door hasn't been completely slammed, although it's very unlikely once we signed Jermaine [O'Neal]."
Ouch. I guess one O’Neal is enough already for the Celtics.
On the contrary, the decision on whether Rasheed Wallace retires or not could factor into the negotiations between Shaq and the Celtics.
The Atlanta Hawks are one of the few teams still exploring the option of adding a veteran center like O’Neal.
Unfortunately for O’Neal, the Hawks have already signed Joshua Powell. Even still, the Hawks might still want to come to terms with Shaq according to one team official.
"The Shaq situation is not a dead subject for us,” said one Hawks official according to NBA beat writer Sekou Smith. “We are still exploring the possibilities."
O’Neal has said he wants approximately $8 million per year to play, however, Shaq may have to be flexible and realize he is in no position to make demands.
The Chicago Bulls are once again a contender to make a playoff run in the 2010-11 season. And behind every playoff-bound team is veteran leadership.
O’Neal could be a great leader on this young Bulls squad. Don’t get me wrong, Joakim Noah is the center for the team, but Shaq could provide quality playing time and disseminate his playoff experience to the youthful Bulls.
The Bulls could use an exceptional center like O’Neal as well. Beyond Noah, the only other center on the roster is rookie seven-footer Omer Asik.