Shaquille O’Neal now “lobbying” for a job with Boston

It’s getting kinda awkward watching Shaq go out like this.  It wasn’t too long ago that he descended upon Cleveland talking about his witness protection plans, and becoming the first to five.  That didn’t work.  The witness banner he was protecting is torn down, the guy he was trying to win a ring for is now the king of wingmen, and his old buddy Kobe was the first to that fistful of rings.  Tough year for the Shaq-alier.  All of which has left him teamless, and currently going door-to-door with an NBA resume that reads HOF’er and best bigman of a generation, which is really just not a good look for him.

The thing is, I just don’t like having to read reports about a guy that has been the player and personality that Shaq has been over much of my lifetime like the one from Marc Stein earlier this week, saying the following:

“Shaq, at last report, still wants assurances of a healthy slice of playing time as well as a salary that starts above the $5.8 million mid-level exception, which can be achieved through a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. No team out there, including Atlanta, is known to be willing to pay Shaq more than $2 million for next season.” 

It’s not the sign and trade part with Cleveland either.  It’s the no team willing to pay just over the veterans minimum for a guy that arguably was the Most Dominant Ever, all the while requiring now a salary three to four times his market value.  Not the way he should be spending the twilight of his career.  

As far as the sign and trade idea from Cleveland’s perspective, I don’t really think there’s all that much to be gained for the Cavs in a move like this.  I wouldn’t be opposed to it necessarily, depending on who they’d get in return, but I am opposed to the idea that Shaq has anything to really gain through his continued pursuit of employment in the Association. 

The latest reports, have those pursuits now focused on the Celtics, with Tim Povtak offering the following last night:

 “Veteran free agent center Shaquille O’Neal — the future Hall of Famer without a team — has been lobbying the Boston Celtics aggressively, still trying to convince them that his addition would help their quest to win another NBA championship…Although O’Neal was unavailable for comment Friday, two sources close to him confirmed his continued interest in the Celtics, even though they currently have no room, or exceptions, under the salary cap to pay him beyond the NBA veteran’s minimum of $1.35 million”

So this is now Shaquille O’Neal convincing a team that he is good enough to back up Kendrick Perkins, and if Big Baby goes down, he’s saying he can step right into the rotation and help out.  There is something just not right about that.  What’s also not right is that pretty much any NBA fan can reasonably deduce that Shaq wants to be a Celtic, in part,  because he put a torch to the bridges he once had with every other legit title contender in the league. 

Just guessing here, but I’d assume he’s probably not welcome to team up with Dwight Howard in Orlando, after first leaving them for LA and then blasting Howard for his use of that Superman handle.  Probably also not welcome on Chris Bosh’s squad after he called him the RuPaul of big men, repeatedly, and probably not welcome back in LA either for obvious reasons.  So that leaves who then in his desperate attempt for one last title?  Phoenix?  Tried that.  Dallas?  They said they were out.   Atlanta?  Anyone actually believe the Hawks are a title contender?  So he’s left with lobbying a team in Boston, who showed no interest initially, and in all likelihood can’t pay him close to what he thinks he’s worth.

So what I’m saying is I really just hope Shaq retires gracefully at this point.  He doesn’t need to take the veteran’s minimum to win one more ring, nor do the Cavaliers need his services in their rebuilding effort.  His legacy is cemented.  He played hard during his last year in Cleveland, and if he didn’t get hurt, who knows how it would have ended.  But it did end.  Shaq came into Cleveland as Shaq, a little older, a step slower, but he still had that swagger that made him so fun to watch, and so entertaining to listen too.  I don’t like watching Desperation Shaq trying to stick around.  I don’t like watching him chase one more ring.  He doesn’t need too, and there’s no good nickname to describe that guy.

  • Tony

    I don’t buy into the fan saying a star player should, “retire gracefully”. It is the player’s life. They can do something they really enjoy for over a million dollars a year. There probably isn’t too many other things Shaq can do next year that will earn him that much.

  • Rick

    Tony, if Shaq was willing to take the minimum contract in order to continue doing what he loved I doubt anyone would raise a fuss, and teams would line up to get him. The fact is he is insisting that he is somehow worth more and deserves more playing time. Red flags shoot up for me anytime someone starts insisting on playing time. That’s just not how you build a winning team.

  • Brendan

    Tony, I would agree with you if that was how Shaq was approaching this thing. But like Rick said, he’s not. If he wanted to simply play for the minimum, he would have jumped on the $2 million offers he reportedly had already. Instead he’s driving teams away by his salary demands, trying to force a sign and trade, and hurting his legacy in the process.

  • Ike

    I mean, we all know he’s trying to at least tie Kobe, but signing with Boston would make it more obvious than it already is (if that’s even possible). It’s time for the diesel to put it in park.

  • dr. cleveland

    Personally, I think Shaq could still be a useful player on the right team. Coming off the bench, averaging around 20-25 mins a game, Shaq would dominate most second team C’s and could provide a go-to option when a team wants to rest their 1st and 2nd options. It’s hard to miss when every shot you take should either be a lay up or a dunk. But Shaq needs to realize he’s no longer ‘Superman’ or ‘The Diesel’ anymore. To be demanding that kind of money, he either has far too unrealistic view of himself or he’s blown all his $$$. The guy has had a great career, clearly a HOF’er, and in the conversation for the best big man ever, but he is what he is and needs to realize that…

  • LJP305

    Over his career, Shaq played 80% of regular season games (1,170 out of 1.476 possible games). This percentage declined to 77% over his last 10 years, 70% over the last 5 years and 65% last season. Kobe has played 89% of games during his career (1,021 out of 1,148 possible games), with the percentage rising to 92% over his last 10 years and 96% over the last 5 years. While injuries can befall any athlete, Shaq’s careen includes several questionable or avoidable missed games (very un-Kobe like). An infamous edict by Shaq as a Laker in 2002 was “I got hurt on the job, so I’ll heal on the job” when he delayed having toe surgery until the end of the summer thereby extending his recovery into the next playing season. He played 81% of games the 02-03 season. If Shaq never played more than 80% of regular season games at $21+million/year, does anyone think that percentage will increase or even remain the same for a team that pays him far less? If he signs with a team to play a diminished role and for far less money than he earned previously, Shaq will have similar problems adjusting as Allen Iverson had with Memphis and Philadelphia last year. Its difficult if not impossible for prominent NBA players to accept a sudden decline in their role and annual salary.

  • Bryan

    Bottom line: Shaq was recently divorced. Half his net worth is gone. The dude still needs a pay check. I think that is why he is pushing for a bigger deal…. Its also why he sells himself for that stupid reality show “Shaq vs.”.

    It would be great if players made decisions based on their “legacy” in the fans eyes. But these guys want to make money, and market themselves. Frankly, I would too if I was Shaq. He is old, single, divorced, probably paying an large amount of alimony, and this is his last chance to sing a multi-million dollar deal.