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.