Shaq-to-Boston reaction

May 07, 2010 - Boston, MASSACHUSETTS, UNITED STATES - epa02148070 Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal (C) dunks the ball in front of (L-R) Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett, Kendrick perkins and Paul Pierce in the third quarter of their Eastern Conference Semifinal round playoff game at the TD Bank Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 07 May 2010. The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 124-95 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub: Shaq can be an asset for a team that ranked just 15th in points per possession and struggled to produce looks at the rim when Rajon Rondo couldn’t penetrate. Rondo and Paul Pierce are the C’s only real threats to create offense at the basket. When they are on the bench or pushed slightly off their game, Boston’s offense is reduced to a series of off-the-ball screens and side screen/rolls—last-gasp sequences run on the defensive, after the best options have been closed off. Against good defenses, those kinds of possessions ended too often with long, contested jumpers. Watch Game 7 again, if you can stomach it. Shaq could provide some relief from that. I’m not saying he’s going to be out there beside the starters with 5:00 to go in the 4th quarter of a playoff game. But put him out there with, say, three bench players and Ray Allen? He adds a dimension that wasn’t there last season.

Chris Forsberg, Although I’ll admit Boston fans can be amazingly fickle — just look at the backlash when former fan favorite Eddie House recently decided to join the Super Friends in Miami — it’s funny how embracing this city can be when that player comes to the Hub. A few thunderous two-handed jams, and Shaquille O’Neal will have the Garden eating out of his hand. Celtics fans probably don’t detest O’Neal based on his Los Angeles days because the two sides never met in a Finals. Some begrudge him more from his Orlando days, including when the Magic swept Boston in the first round of the 1995 playoffs, and in the final game at the Boston Garden, O’Neal (playfully) declared, “The Garden is closed for business.” You hate that player when he is on the other team; you love him when he’s on yours.

Steve Buckley, Boston Herald: True, Shaq is not just old, but real old. And he does have a way of altering locker room chemistry. And, um, well, you see, he, um, did take a meat clever to Perk’s face during the playoffs this season. But even an old Shaq makes the Celtics a better team. An old Shaq gives them a better chance of turning off the Heat. And that’s what the entire 2010-11 NBA season is all about: Some team needs to step up and defeat the Heat.

J.A. Adande, If you selectively filter the numerous statements Shaq has made over the years, then his joining the Boston Celtics actually makes sense. No, it doesn’t jibe with his dubious claims that he’d be out of the NBA by the time he was in his early 30s, either sitting in a media analyst’s chair or serving as the sheriff of some small county. But it does fit his oft-repeated statements that he needed to add to his ring collection. As he said numerous times over the years, including upon his arrival in Phoenix, “I need five and six.” Teams that could make that conversation a reality were limited. His options were further restricted by his own personal history of clashing with another superstar and trashing the owner (Lakers), tearing down the management and medical staff (Miami), or jilting the city once before (Magic), taking those franchises out of play. Other up-and-comers, such as the Thunder, aren’t interested in a mercenary player who won’t be part of the long-term plan. Shaq has more to gain from this endeavor than the Celtics do. The Celtics are the ones who reached the NBA Finals last season, beating O’Neal and the Cleveland Cavaliers along the way. He’s the one who’s joining ’em. The irony is this is strictly about playing basketball. Can’t say this is about money or market, the accusations lobbed at O’Neal when he left Orlando to join the Lakers in Hollywood. This makes the cycle of his career complete. There are those who thought he wasn’t focused enough on basketball at a young age, just as there will be those who consider this cold, blatant pursuit of a championship unbecoming.

Of course, you can read my take here.

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Shaq the Celtic?

Cleveland Cavaliers Shaquille O'Neal (L) is guarded by Boston Celtics Kevin Garnett during the third quarter in Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series in Boston, Massachusetts May 13, 2010. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It looks that way.

Shaquille O’Neal has decided to join the Boston Celtics, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. He is expected to tell the team of his intentions Wednesday morning.

The length of the contract is not known, but O’Neal, who has been seeking a two-year deal, will play for the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million annually.

It’s hard to say if this is a good signing. It seems so on paper — the Celtics now have a guy who can score in the post and rebound, and it shores up the front line, which will be missing Kendrick Perkins for the first few months. Offensively, Shaq’s clogging of the lane — which didn’t work well in Cleveland alongside the slashing LeBron James — won’t be as disruptive to Boston’s attack, as the C’s are essentially Rajon Rondo and a team of jumpshooters.

But there is so much else that comes along with signing Shaq, namely the ego. Can the Celtics’ locker room with its vaunted ‘ubuntu’ handle Shaq’s massive personality? Is he going to start grumbling about minutes or touches if he’s not getting enough? Will he stay in shape? Will he stay healthy?

From an intrigue standpoint, other than Miami, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot. A possible Boston/Miami matchup now has no fewer than eight potential Hall of Famers: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rondo, Shaq, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

In the end, if the report is accurate, Shaq chose relevancy over money. Kudos to him for that.

Dwight Howard on the Cavs’ decision to acquire Shaq

TAIPEI, July 27, 2010 NBA's Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard answers questions during a training session in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, July 27, 2010. Howard is in Taipei to hold a charity basketball camp for children from disadvantaged families.

When asked about the Hawks possibly signing Shaq to match up with the Magic, Dwight Howard had this to say to the Atlanta Journal Constitution

“That’s only four games out of the season. You have to look long term and what’s best for your team. Cleveland got Shaq to match up with the Magic. They also got Antawn Jamison to match up with the Magic. But they didn’t even play the Magic. They played Boston [and lost]. You match up for the league, not just one team.”

The Cavs were eliminated by the Magic in the playoffs the year before, so it’s understandable why they would want to improve their roster with a possible rematch in mind. The Celtics looked like they were getting old very quickly, so they weren’t deemed the threat that the Magic were. That was obviously a big mistake.

I’m interested to find out why the Cavs weren’t able to acquire Amare Stoudemire. He was available for almost two years during the span when the Cavs were retooling their roster and would have seemingly been a very nice fit in the pick-and-roll with LeBron. Hopefully someday Danny Ferry will speak out on the subject because his word is about the only one I trust in this whole mess.

Shaq needs a reality check

NBA star Shaquille O'Neal challenges 2009 champion Kavya Shivashankar to spell a word before the final round at the Scripps 2010 National Spelling Bee in Washington on June 4, 2010. UPI/Alexis C. Glenn Photo via Newscom

Shaq is a 38-year-old center without a home and he’s holding out for a sign-and-trade hoping to get a deal that starts above the mid-level exception, which starts at around $5.8 million per season. But get this — he only wants to play for a legitimate contender.

That’s a short list of teams.

What follows is an open letter to Mr. O’Neal.

Shaq, you are one of the most dominating players the league has ever seen, and the NBA has been good to you. According to Basketball-Reference, you have made more than $290 million in your career. And that doesn’t even count the money you’ve made from sponsorships.

Don’t embarrass yourself by trying to orchestrate a sign-and-trade. If you want to keep playing, just sign for the veteran minimum and join the best fit of the short list of teams that are after your services. Everyone knows you are not the player that you once were, and haven’t been for the last few years, (when you were making $20+ million a season), so take the pay cut with a smile and put yourself in a position of relevancy to finish off your illustrious career.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be the difference in a playoff series for the Celtics or the Hawks, and people will look back on your final games and say — man, the guy could still play, even at 38-years-old.

Dwight Howard to work with Olajuwon

This has to be music to Magic fans’ ears. Per the Orlando Sentinel

Some help might come from former Houston Rockets all-star Hakeem Olajuwon, who spoke with Howard during the Eastern Conference finals. Olajuwon has made himself available to NBA players in recent years; he even spent some time last summer working with Kobe Bryant to help Bryant to develop his low-post game.

“In the next couple of weeks, we will see each other,” Howard said of Olajuwon. “I just can’t wait to go up there. He’s a great guy. He had a lot of great things to say. I’m just looking forward to having the chance to work with him.”

Howard has improved his post game since he’s entered the league. Since he entered straight out of high school, and has been in the NBA for six years, it may seem like he hasn’t progressed all that much. But if you remember Shaq when he was 24, he didn’t have a polished post game either. The difference between the two players is that Shaq was about 40-50 lbs. heavier at the same age so he had that much more power.

Howard can shoot a hook with either hand, and he hit a few nice ones against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Let’s not forget that Kendrick Perkins is a very solid post defender and did a nice job of keeping Howard out of the paint when he started his post up, pushing him out of his comfort zone for those jump hooks.

Olajuwon’s patented move was a baseline fadeaway that was essentially unblockable. Then when the defender would start to cheat up to try to contest it, he’d go up and under. Howard’s footwork is okay, but he’s awfully stiff when he makes his moves. Olajwuon was a far smoother athlete, which had everything to do with his background playing soccer growing up in Nigeria.

Howard needs to continue to work on his footwork, extend the range of his jump hook by 2-3 feet and develop a turnaround jumper over his right shoulder. That’s something that Shaq developed over the first half of his career which turned into a great weapon when the defender was bodying him up trying to keep him out of the lane.

I don’t think Howard is ever going to perfect the 15′ bank shot like Tim Duncan or develop an arsenal of moves like Pau Gasol, but he can build on what he’s already done and can certainly learn a few things from Olajuwon. If I were Howard, I’d book “The Dream” for the next few summers.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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