Celtics Fill Front Court Void: Add Shaq

So according to just about every credible news source who follows the Celtics; CSN, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, so on and so forth, Shaquille O’Neal will be joining the Celtics this upcoming season. It seems the deal will be for the veteran minimum and will have a player’s option for the second year.

While Shaq does fill the Celtics desperate need for a big man I have to be honest I’m not a fan of this move at all. Shaq has clearly been on the decline the past few years, which can be expected of a thirty-eight year old player. However the problem is Shaq doesn’t seem ready to accept the fact that he’s on the decline.  It took Shaq so long to find a team because he continued to hold out believing he deserved around the mid-level exception.

Shaq’s numbers last year weren’t actually that bad. He averaged 12 points a game while pulling down about 7 rebounds and shooting 56% from the field. Shaq’s numbers went down in the playoffs where he averaged 11.5 points a game and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 51% from the field. Shaq also had a PER, a measure of per minute production, of 17.92 during the regular season which tied him for 14th best among centers with his new teammate Jermaine O’Neal.

While his numbers weren’t all that bad the truth is that Shaq often bogged down the Cavaliers offense. His presence in the middle made it hard for Lebron James, Mo Williams, and the rest of the Cavs to find lanes to the basket. Shaq also had a really hard time getting up and down the court in the fast break.

Where Shaq offers the Celtics the biggest help is on the defensive end. He can clog up the middle blocking some shots and overall giving any guard that drives a hard time. Shaq also provides a very big body who can bang around down low with the likes of Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

Another positive of adding Shaq is that it leaves the Celtics Rasheed’s expiring deal to still offer up in trades. Getting Shaq for the veteran’s minimum fills the void in the front court and leaves the door open for the Celtics to still pursue a trade for Rudy Fernandez or another wing player who can help with the scoring load.

Now the biggest problem that comes with Shaq, as I see it at least, is his larger than life personality and attitude. Shaq is one of the greatest centers to ever play the game but he is far from his prime. It is hard for a great player like Shaq to accept a diminished role and that is what he will have to do in Boston.

With KG, Big Baby, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaq, and Perk, when he finally is healthy, the Celtics front court is certainly going to be crowded. Doc is going to have to shuffle minutes between the aging veterans and the young guys to find a balance that works. It is safe to assume that none of the five, all use to playing regularly, will be volunteering to spend long stretches on the bench.

Shaq didn’t cause any problems in Cleveland but he was the starting center there and none of the other front court players really challenged him for minutes. Now competing with other established players it will be interesting to see how Shaq reacts if a few games go by where his playing time is cut and players like Big Baby and Perk are getting the majority of the minutes.

All in all the Celtics are getting Shaq for a really cheap price. While his skills have diminished the Celtics don’t need him to be a superstar. The Celtics simply need Shaq to be a defensive presence inside, to score around the rim occasionally, and to crash the glass hard. If Shaq can manage to provide all those things without causing any locker room problems he could turn out to be the steal of free agency and just the right piece to get the Celtics back in the thick of the title picture.

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Hunter Thomas
As a lifetime New England sports fan, Hunter was determined in October of 2005 to finally start using that passion and determination to create the site now known as Celtics 24/7. Formerly known as Celtics Pride, Celtics 24/7 has become one of the most well-respected and followed Celtics websites. Our motto “For Fans, By Fans” rings entirely true as we’ve built and grown a community of passionate and enthusiastic Celtics fans. It all starts with you–the fans, and I appreciate every single person who supports us on our journey to the top.


  1. Pat Cusick

    August 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    I hear what you are saying and agree that Danny has surely informed Shaq that he will be coming off the bench in a limited role. However it is a lot easier for Shaq to be ok with that right now as opposed to when the season starts. Another problem with Shaq that I can’t believe I forgot to mention is his horrible pick and roll defense. While Shaq can be a good on ball low post defender he gets lost on pick and rolls and puts guards on his team in horrible situations. I suppose we will all just have to wait and see how Shaq takes to being simply a role player off the bench.

  2. Jamie Canu

    August 4, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I am all in support of your concerns about Shaq, the only thing I don’t agree with is his understanding of his role. I can’t imagine Danny did not lay that on the table for him.I also happen to believe the Shaq we see in the media is also an act. He is far to smart to actually be that stupid to believe he is elite. With the franchise that he actually is, meaning his tv show and character of Super-Shaq to say he was mortal would be a detriment to his worth on tv.

  3. Pat Cusick

    August 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    My whole complaint about Shaq is that I have a hard time seeing him accepting a limited role off the bench when he considers himself to still be an elite player. I’m not saying he will bully Doc into playing him more but I am saying Shaq could become difficult if a few games go by where he gets limited minutes. Shaq has the potential to be a helpful pickup if he can find it in himself to accept his diminished skills and a smaller role. If he turns out to be anything like Michael Finely though we are in a lot of trouble. Finely scored 3 points from May 1st to the end of the season. Hopefully though this offseason where few teams have pursured Shaq will serve as a humbling experience for him and Shaq will accept his role and be a help to the Celtics. All I’m saying is I won’t be holding my breath.

  4. Jamie Canu

    August 4, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I do realize there would still be a cap hit but at 1million I don’t think you will find a better bargain for the players still available.
    I don’t expect shaq to put up those numbers I was saying they were respectable. Doc is coaching the team I don’t see him being bullied into playing shaq more often then he feels is helpful.

    Best way to tell is let’s see how the season progresses. My feeling is the results will be positive.
    I don’t think shaq will be in any way a shadow of the dominant Shaq. But like Michael Finley his time could prove valuable even in small shifts.

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  7. Pat Cusick

    August 4, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I think you’re missing a few things when you say there is nothing bad about this move. The NBA is not like the NFL if Shaq doesn’t work out they can’t simply just cut him. Shaq’s contract would still count against the salary cap if they were to cut him and with so little money there is no chance they would ever do that. Also you are assuming he won’t be expecting a big role at all based on what? Your own assumptions? Shaq has never accepted the fact that his skills are declining and I have a hard time seeing him slide comfortably into a bench role. You mention his 12 points a game and 7 rebounds as all positives but those numbers came in 25 minutes a game as a starter. Shaq’s numbers will be very different coming off the bench in a crowded front court. Like I stated in the article Shaq’s PER was tied for 14th best among centers in the NBA which is not impressive at all. I’m not saying there is no chance this move works out. If Shaq can rein his ego in he could prove to be a valuable addition off the bench. He still is a massive body who can play some solid defense and score a little around the basket. He just can’t do it consistently anymore.

  8. Jamie Canu

    August 4, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I just can’t see where Shaq is a bad option for Boston.

    1. Perk is injured and it adds some depth until he returns.

    2. He is slow, and his declining offense are apparent and nearly half of what they use to be, but 12ppg is a respectable number off the bench.

    3. While his offense may be off, his defense is still good. 7 boards a game and 1.2 blocks is attually quite valuable for the Celtics who were one of the worst rebounding teams last year. And with their top boardsman out it wasn’t imporving.

    4. Shaw will get 1 million a season, if he is off his game we cut him and pick up someone else and there is no real negative effect.

    5. As for minutes I don’t think there is a fallacy that he is coming into a major role. I heard Shaq’s comments also about thinking he is still the best, but I honestly think he know and this is his ego coming out. The Celtics would have been stupid not to put all this out on the table and tell him what the expectations for him will be knowing that he is the type of guy that will blab to the media if unhappy.

    I just don’t see how it hurts us by trying. We tried Marbury and we just put him way in the depth chart when he didn’t perform and forgot about him.

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