Post-game Reactions

Lost amongst the reflection surrounding Shaq’s retirement and storied career last night was an important declaration made by a fellow Celtic. The news came courtesy of A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com who caught up with Jermaine O’Neal via phone. The veteran center passed along the crucial revelation that he will be back for the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics, giving the team a full six players under contract entering next season. Here’s the latest from J.O:

“I have a lot I can still give to this team,” O’Neal told CSNNE.com in a phone interview.

O’Neal said wrist surgery would have sidelined him for at least four months. Even with a lockout pushing the start of the season back, he knew his conditioning would once again be an issue upon his return and in many ways, he would have the same problems that he experienced this past season.

While surgery on the wrist will have to be done “at some point in my life,” O’Neal said a battery of tests in recent weeks on the wrist have come back positive.

The instant connection he felt with veterans such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, O’Neal admits also played a factor in his decision to play one more season.

“I know how competitive those guys are, and I know they still believe they can win another championship,” O’Neal said. “I feel the same way.”

Now that he has a year in head coach Doc Rivers’ system behind him, he hopes to pick up where he left off.

“It takes time to get to know players, to trust players. I understand that,” O’Neal said. “I think these guys know me better, and now that I’m healthy again, they can trust that I can do a lot of the things they’ve seen me do over the years. I’m excited about the opportunity to come back and get after it again.”

CH’s Analysis: I spent about 1,500 words on this subject a couple weeks back, so I strongly encourage you to head back and check out that piece for the importance of this return. Shaq’s expected retirement made JO’s decision even more pivotal for a team lacking size and the resources to address the need sufficiently on the open market. Here’s a quick sample of the article above regarding the dilemma the C’s would face without O’Neal back:

With over 58 million dollars committed to just five members of the roster already (not including J.O.) for the 2011-12 season, Danny Ainge’s back is already against the wall as far as flexibility is concerned.

If O’Neal returns, that number jumps up to 64.2 million, but essentially will have no effect on how much money the team has to spend this offseason. The only money Ainge has to spend as things stand right now with the current CBA:

Mid-Level Exception: Roughly 5-6 million
Bi-Annual Exception: Around 2 million
Veteran’s Minimum Contracts

For a team that needs to fill potentially fill up to 10 spots on its roster, that’s not a lot of cash to make the sufficient changes this team needs. Get bigger and more athletic upfront. Improve the offense. Reduce minutes for the Big Three. There’s a lot that has to be done.

Boston has bird rights on Big Baby, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, meaning they don’t have to spend the above pool of money specifically on those guys. Even if all of those three are re-signed, (possible but not probable) it still leaves plenty of holes. Delonte West needs to get paid (he will make more than veteran’s minimum next year) and the team still has to address the offense and athleticism.

Without O’Neal in the picture however, the options still remain the same. It just adds another major hole to fill in the middle. It also gives the C’s free agents a bit of leverage in negotiating their deals, knowing the team’s situation I just described above.

If Boston wants to remain a contender and J.O. doesn’t come back, short of making a blockbuster deal Ainge is going to need to bring nearly everyone in the rotation. The agents will know this and try to squeeze every possible dollar out of Ainge. If O’Neal is back however, the C’s can probably let one of those free agents walk and still manage to get by.

And that’s exactly what will happen with J.O. make for one last go-around. It wasn’t a pretty ride the first time around (during the regular season) but hopefully one last stand in Green for O’Neal will end things off on a high note. For now, this is the first real domino to fall for the C’s this offseason and it could be just as important as any that comes during this summer.

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Brian Robb

Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.
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  • Batman

    I was so scared if he was retiring, then we would have no centers

  • Jermaine O'Neal playing next season for the Celtics would in now way be a good move for Danny Ainge to make.

    The simple fact is that the Celtics have declined in performance since JO was added to their team and nothing about his tenure, thus far, indicates that their on-court productivity will improve with his presence in their line-up on a regular basis going forward from this point.

    Mr. O'Neal's "best days" as a productive NBA player are well behind him and the C's need to go in a different direction, if they want to maintain their foothold in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

    • Batman

      I disagree his most productive days are gone but I would rather depend on him rather than a young undeveloped prospect

      • Far East Man

        are you saying you think JO can still be an all-star next season? wake up dude.

        • The Prayer

          That seems to be jumping the gun a bit with what he said.

        • celts34

          i'm pretty sure he said that his most productive days are gone, but he's more reliable than an any young raw talent out there. doesn't sound like he's saying he'll be an all star

          • dasein

            The fact is, he's still under contract. Ainge isn't making a decision about whether he comes back. And as this article says, his coming back doesn't effect the money that the C's have to spend next year- it will be the same whether he comes back or retires. So if he wasn't coming back, that roster spot would essentially have to be filled with a veteren's minium guy; think Juan Howard type. JO, for all his issues, is easily better than whoever that would be.

  • SteveB

    JO is not an All Star anymore but neither is Joel Anthony or Ronnie Turiaf. He is what is he, a big that can play defense, rebound, and provide some offense.

    • The degree to which JO has declined in recent years is such that at this stage of his otherwise fine pro basketball career, he is a less effective player than either Ronny Turiaf or Joel Anthony.

      e.g. Unlike either of those 2 other unassuming younger role-playing Bigs, JO still thinks of himself as a former All-Star who can do some of the same things he once did in his hey-day with the Pacers.

      There are a host of other younger Bigs in the league today who would make a more positive contribution to the Celtics next season, compared with a physically broken down player like Mr. O'Neal … at least, if Boston truly wants to remain in the upper echelon of the EC.

  • skeeds

    In a league thin on quality bigs, JO and Krstic is a very very good combination to have. There's only one Dwight Howard, a Bynum and then a bunch of "energy guys", or"defence oriented bigs", which, I'm sorry to say, is a euphimism for guys that can only score on dunks.
    So, since our chances of signing a guy like Brook Lopez are thin, I'd take JO any day. Still, we need a four to handle some of KG's load. Baby has lost the benefit of doubt. We need a McGee kind of guy. A long, athletic YOUNG guy to run up and down and block shots. No ide where we're gonna find a guy like that though…

  • kricky

    Good to see JO back. But man we are thin at this position if we need to rely on him now to play all those minutes at the 5. Last year showed him to be injury prone and we want to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

    The Heat seemed to have struck gold with Anthony. Ditto the Hornets with Gray. Semi wasn't bad either (why o why did we give him up for zilch in return??). Maybe we can take a chance on a couple of young guys and bring them along.

    • dasein

      I don't get the Semi thing either, but lests suspend judgement till we see what we get back for him. It's not exactly zilcth- its a 2nd round pick from the cavs, which is likely to be as good as a late 1st round pick, assuming they continue to suck.
      I don't think it's for this draft though, which is a pity. From what I hear, this draft is weak at the top, but very deep in the middle. If so, this year would be a good one to get a bonus pick at the 32nd spot.

  • James Patrick

    JO coming back is NOT good news. Heard of free agency? We need a REAL center. Wake up and smell the coffee. We won't win a title with JO as our starting center. mark my words. And i don't care if you thumbs down this, it's the truth.

    • duggyfresh88

      Same thing I said to khandor, take a look at the free agents. Tell me someone better than the C's can get with their roster situation. It's so funny seeing all of you people just saying "We need to get someone better! This is bad!" Without having any clue how or who. It doesn't work like that.

      • Tos

        I don't even understand why you are bothering try to explain this to either of these two. They aren't going to read and understand what you're saying, because if they were (or if they read the initial article) they'd understand at least part of that. My suggestion, don't waste your time. JO coming back is good news, no matter what people say.

        • duggyfresh88

          haha very true, very true

          • James Patrick

            Yeah just like you all thought Shaq was going to play some meaningful minutes after the Perk trade. lol

            You lose JO, Shaq, you open up the mid-level exception. Do you guys need to see a list of all the upcoming free agents. Surely you've heard of google. look it up.

            JO is soft. again, if he's our starting center, we don't advance into the playoffs. simple as that. Get educated about your team Tos and duggy unless you only watch the playoffs and skip most of the regular season. lol

          • Batman

            We don't get into the playoffs? start Kwame brown and we still get into the playoffs

          • Ray Ray for 3!

            j Patrick is trippin…we'll get into the playoffs anyway

  • strips

    a healthy JO for 3/4 of the season and the whole playoffs…perhaps a bit too much to ask, but it would sure do the team a lot of good…

    good news indeed…now if they can only get that o'donnel kid…

  • CsFanInArkansas

    I'm really enjoying this playful banter of whether or not JO coming back is a good thing…but I'd like to ask a question that might change the subject…

    How does the draft affect our salary cap situation?
    You mentioned that we have the MLE, the Bi-Annual Exception and the Vets Min to spend this offseason. Where do rookie salaries factor into that?
    Say for instance, we pick up a guy with our 25th pick and pay him 1.5million for 3 years. Does that zap us of a portion of our MLE?

    I'd love to hear some feedback on that from you guys that are much smarter than me when it comes to NBA salary stuff.



    • I_Love_Green

      Rookie salaries do not affect the MLE, Bi-Annual, or Vets min. You can only use those 3 on free agents.

  • I_Love_Green

    Its a good thing he's coming back. Don't be stupid. He played great defense for us in the playoffs, and that was with a broken wrist/bad back. A healthier Jermaine will bring better rebounding, and better offense. Things we missed.

    He'll most likely play 20-25 minutes a game in the regular season, while hopefully having a healthier year.

    • James Patrick

      that's just it. are we basing things off hope for good health now? we did that with Shaq. look how far that got us. facts are fact. JO is old, we won't get him for a full season next year. He's not as conditioned as KG, Ray and Paul. They guy put off surgery when he could've had it earlier in the season and it cost us. but everyone forgets these things.

  • Morpheus

    Yep because he'll solve our biggest weakness, rebounding.

    • Batman

      We have no idea if he would have developed his rebounding further this season because he has mono and a calcium deposit in his arm

      • Morpheus

        In my best impersonation of Janos.

        Hi Batman is Janos.

        Why Danny is settle for 2nd best, maybe best move to grab top dog like Dwight Howard, look sexy in green.

        • Batman


          • Batman


        • janos

          Hi Morpheus, is good point but sometime cannot get all best player at every position.

  • Morpheus

    Any updates on how the draft workouts are going?

  • lakershater13

    Wow. Lots of haters in here. Also a couple intelligent down to earth people who actually know what they are talking about. First him coming back has nothing to do with Ainge. He is signed and it is his decision to come back not Ainge. If he retired we would not get an extra mid level exception so losing him would not help us. Keeping him with a 6 mil expiring contract may actually be valuable at some point this season. Second the guy can still play basketball. He has been on playoff teams a lot (Indian, Miami, now Celtics). If he can get back in a little better shape than he was in the playoffs he can be an excellent guy to put at center whether he plays 20 or 30 mins he is certainly useful. Third I do agree that we should go after some free agents but realistically some of the better names out there may get over paid by other teams and might be out of our price range. If good centers were easy to get then every team in the league would several.

    So stop hating and be happy that we have a center who we know has been a great player in the past and has the potential to be a very useful player for the Celtics.

  • jonathan

    Didn't J.O sign for the mid-level exception though???

  • Morpheus


  • Jason

    So that's what can happen when Lebron clanks hero threes instead of making them. The same for Wade. They go into their tunnels with their heads down, shellshocked, with a bloodthirsty media waiting for them. Love it.

    As for JO, it's not surprising he's returning. I didn't expect him to turn down 6 million and forego his last big payday. If he can play like he did for stretches in the playoffs, pairing with Garnett to make the defense excellent and hitting open shots, great, but what are the chances he doesn't miss 30 games next season? Or can play 30 minutes when they need him to? I hated last season how the Celtics didn't have 1 big after Garnett who could either play more than 30 minutes or who shouldn't play that long like Davis. All in all, I'm okay with him returning but I hope it's not a repeat of last season.

  • CG12

    Except that Posey is NOTHING LIKE MARION. Shawn Marion is a slightly aging elite athlete, a former All-Star who has been a major player. Posey was always a grit and savvy guy, a role player. Now that he is getting old, he is just slow and crappy. I loved Posey for what he gave the Cs, but I was delighted when they declined to sign him for 4 years and am even more delighted today. Those are the kinds of moves that kill your salary cap planning. And Danny doesn't get enough credit for the wisdom of not doing that deal. You pay guys what they are worth, and if that means making some hard judgments on that worth and letting a player you like walk because you disagree, so be it.

  • Rex

    Jeff Green was supposed to be that player. Guard the 3 and sometimes the 4. Problem being that Green is mediocre, while the Matrix, even the senior citizen version, is good.

  • Brian

    Good News but the my gut tells me the wrist could be a lingering problem next season along with the other "old man" injuries that will pop up It would have been wise for him to have the surgery on it after the season ended. I also have to agree with the previous comment about how Miami doesn't look so good when those bail out jumpers don't fall or the Refs don't roll out red carpets to the free throw line for Squire James and Punk Wade.

  • LACelticsFan

    Good move for JO to be coming back, but if Krstic is the other half we still need a good 3rd string center as JO shouldnt play on back to back nights. We could look at a Jeff Foster at the 6mil mid level. Another player we should look at is his teammate Josh McRoberts. He is a full 6-11 and can score and play some D, but having him in the second unit would be great. Then still drafting a young PF/C that stands 6-10 or taller would gives us a future down low. Seriously if we add McRoberts and Foster and maybe draft JaJuan Johnson, we are back when the other FA's are resigned sans BBD.

  • James Patrick

    We wouldn't even be talking about JO had we, I dunno, kept Perk?!

    • CG12

      Which was never going to happen. The Cs couldn't pay Perk what he wanted to get paid, so wouldn't have been here next year, in any event.

    • Batman

      you know what would have happened to if we kept perk?
      we lost to miami 4-1
      we lose him in free agency
      don't act like Perkins would have done anything against Miami

  • Balla

    LMAO!…this is hilarious if you really think he is that important to the Celts next season will be a long one.