This strange NBA offseason keeps getting more surreal, with Shaquille O’Neal joining the Boston Celtics for the veteran’s minimum on a two-year deal.
As a long-time Celtics fan, I’m not sure I had ever really given the idea of Shaq in a Celtics uniform much thought. I just assumed that it would never happen. Of course, if someone had tried to tell me in 2006 that the Boston Celtics 2010-2011 roster would include Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, and Shaquille O’Neal, I’d have died from a laughing fit.
Shaq is certainly past his days of being a truly dominant game changer, and yet, I can’t help but feel that he still has something left to bring to the Celtics. Watching the Celtics get beaten up on the boards in Game 7 of the Finals back in June convinced me that without Kendrick Perkins – and possibly even with him – the Celtics simply lacked the size and bulk to deal with a front-line like the Lakers.
Obviously, Shaq isn’t going back to the days of being the focal point of a team, but on the Celtics, he doesn’t have to be. He simply needs to provide some rebounding, points, and lane clogging defense off the bench. He can still do that, and a team could do much worse than having Shaq as an available option to play center for them.
Will Shaq mean that the Celtics win the title next year? Obviously it would be foolish to make that assumption, and there are dangerous teams like Miami, the Lakers, and the Orlando Magic out there to get in the way. I do feel confident in suggesting that had the Celtics had Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal in June, they would likely have claimed the title rather than the Lakers, as a few rebounds would have made all the difference against a Lakers team that couldn’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn for most of game 7.
Should be an interesting season next year, and the Celtics new Big “Shamrock” should only add to that. Win or lose, I’m at least looking forward to the show. Shaq rarely fails to entertain.