NBA veteran and free agent Shaquille O’Neal, who played with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, is reportedly close to closing a deal with the Boston Celtics for the 2010-2011 season.
Sources say the deal will be for the veteran minimum of $1.35 million and is likely to be a two-year deal with the second year a player option.
Shaq has never come off the bench in his career, but the Celtics have told him he will have to come off the bench if he plays with them next year. Although it may be tough for the 38-year-old center to accept being a bench player, it will be hard for him to pass up the opportunity to play with a championship contending team.
Boston Celtics’ center Kendrick Perkins underwent knee surgery in July and is expected to be unable to play into February 2011. The Celtics signed former Miami Heat center Jermain O’Neal as a free agent last month, who will be the starting center in Perkins’ absence. But this still leaves the need for a backup center, which is where Shaq comes in. If Shaq were to sign with Boston he would come off the bench, playing backup center for Jermain O’Neal.
Shaq is not revealing much, telling the Associated Press Tuesday, “For me, it’s been a real thinking process. I came into the league very graciously and want to go out very graciously. My main thought was I would like to play for a winning franchise, somebody that’s used to winning, somebody that keeps winning. Hopefully, I’ll make my decision here in the next one or two days.”