Shaq signs with Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics signed Shaquille O'Neal on Wednesday, adding the 15-time All-Star center to a team needing his size with center Kendrick Perkins recovering from knee surgery that could sideline him until February.
The 7-foot-1, 325-pound center in the twilight of a brilliant career is coming to the Eastern Conference champions, hoping to add to his four NBA titles.
O'Neal signed a two-year contract worth about $3 million, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said on condition of anonymity because no details were released.
So this is where Shaq's colorful career will end after 20 seasons if he completes his contract with the Celtics.
One of the NBA's most charismatic players will finish with a legendary franchise on the parquet floor beneath 17 championship banners and the retired numbers of Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek and other NBA greats.
From the first pick in the 1992 draft out of Louisiana State to dominant, rim-rattling inside force to complementary player, O'Neal's NBA travels have taken him to six teams and 15 All-Star games. He is the fifth leading scorer with 28,255 points and 14th in rebounds with 12,921 in league history. He's averaged 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and was the NBA MVP in 2000.
His foul shooting might still be a problem and his lumbering style could slow down a running game, but the Celtics need the big center because Perkins is out, possibly until February. Perkins was hurt in Game 6 of the NBA finals against Los Angeles and missed the Lakers' 83-79 win in Game 7.
"If we get to another Game 7 down the line, I'm sure we will be glad we have Shaq on the team," Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said.
The team considered too old by some, despite nearly winning the title, has decided to rely for two more years on a group of 30-plus stars, all likely headed for the Hall of Fame.
O'Neal, 38, joins Pierce, 32, Garnett, 34, and Allen, 35. The Celtics also signed free agent center Jermaine O'Neal, 31 - a six-time All-Star - after the season.
All five are signed for two seasons, except Pierce, who has four years left on the deal he signed after the season. Point guard Rajon Rondo, 24, also is in the fold for four more years.
"I am honored to be joining the Celtics," Shaq said in a statement issued by the club. "I have played against Paul, Ray, Kevin, Rajon, and Jermaine for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship."
The Celtics won their NBA high 17th championship in 2008.
"It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille's caliber to your team," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in the statement. "His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster."
Just which of the two O'Neals will start at center remains uncertain.
"I am very excited," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Adding a player like Shaq is a major plus and it fills a void for our team. He's a real nice piece of the puzzle and he will complement us in where we want to go this coming season."
O'Neal has won three championships with Los Angeles along with his latest, in 2006, with Miami when he was teammates with Dwyane Wade.
The Cleveland Cavaliers signed O'Neal before last season, hoping he could help LeBron James win his first title. O'Neal averaged a career-low 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 53 games, and the Cavaliers lost the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Celtics in six games.
In his last game, O'Neal had 11 points and 4 rebounds in a 94-85 loss in Boston.