The Celtics can thank Jermaine O'Neal for helping them save a little post trade face.
O'Neal did everything that he could to fill the enormous gap left by Perkins while giving the Celtics at least some sort of legitimate shot of making a run.
Think about it.
At the time of the trade, O'Neal's ability to play again this season was not only in jeopardy but bordered on unlikely. Shaq was also dealing with nagging injuries that looked to be closer to infinite than finite.
Who was going to step up? The trade was a roll of the dice that went well beyond losing one of the best defensive centers in the league.
What if the Celtics were left with Krstic/Davis for the playoffs? It was entirely possible and their play proves it would have been an absolute disaster.
According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Shaq's mom said she thinks her little giant might return to the Celtics for the final year of his contract. Shaq would only be making $1.4 million, so the move would only be a seemingly prideful effort for a man whose season all but ended while running back down the basketball court.
After making plans to undergo surgery on his left wrist, Jermaine O'Neal could easily return to Boston with $6.2 million awaiting him.
Yes, I know you must be shaking your head, but the Celtics should have enough usable roster space to hang onto the old and older O'Neal's, should they try to combine for a season's worth of games dressed.
Sure, one or both players could wind up being a reasonable asset, but neither are an answer to Boston's post problems.
So, let's take a look at the unrestricted big-man market.
Centers that could be looked at as major difference makers:
Nene – yeah, right.
Marc Gasol—currently making $3.6 million? The Grizzlies will at least triple that to keep their tandem down low. Gasol will be able to buy the restaurant where he'd buy his meal ticket. File under unrealistic.
Tyson Chandler—you have to respect the Mavericks for realizing they had the perfect situation to help reignite a career. I am sure they will get rid of one of the most important pieces to the revival of a team that was counted out despite a ridiculous record against the top teams this season (I will be the first to say I was not a believer. I'm sorry, Dirk. I'm so sorry).
Samuel Dalembert—Now this is more realistic. Although Dalembert suffers from a lack of quickness and some inconsistencies, 30+ minutes would probably push him into double-digit rebound land (not that that's what he would get) and he can rack up the blocks when he is on his game.
Even though he is 30 now, Dalembert has only missed playing in two games in the past five seasons. What am I saying, I'm sure that streak of reliability would end as soon as he got in green.
DeAndre Jordan/Chris Kaman—the former is the FA of the two but if the Clippers elect to keep their budding, highlight-inducing center, they will probably look to get rid of Kaman. Don't get me wrong, I would much prefer the physicality and athletic ability of the former but Caveman could certainly be an asset.
I would imagine that the Clippers would be happy to get rid of Kaman's contract and wouldn't request too much in return. Congratulations, DeAndre, you will be making $.9 million a year no longer.
As for Jamaal Magloire, Dan Gadzuric, Theo Ratliff and Eddy Curry-the Celtics will just have to get in line.
Given the current streak of decision-making, I expect a Kurt Thomas signing soon after the season is over.