Jermaine O’Neal has listed the Boston Celtics as one of the favorites to sign him this offseason, according to Mark Stein of ESPN.
Free-agent center Jermaine O’Neal said Wednesday that he expects to sign with one of the three following teams in coming days: Dallas, Denver or Boston.
“Those are my favorites,” O’Neal told ESPN.com “Those are teams that are going to compete [for a championship] next year.”
O’Neal said he’s still deliberating between the three teams — all believed to be offering a portion of the mid-level exception to sign him — and called the decision perhaps “the most important of my career because I know this is kind of my last run at it” in terms of title-chasing.
O’Neal’s interest in Boston–for only a portion of the mid-level exception– is great news for the Celtics and their fans. Because Boston is over the salary cap, they can only sign free agents (exluding their own) with their mid-level exception, or with minimum contracts. If O’Neal is willing to take less than the full mid-level exception, it would allow the Celtics to use the rest of the MLE on another free agent. Other potential big men the Celtics have showed interest in–Brad Miller, Shaquille O’Neal– would likely require th full MLE to sign.
O”Neal is an unrestricted free agent who started at center for the Miami Heat this past season, averaging 13.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg. O’Neal would provide much needed frontcourt depth for the Celtics who will likely be without starting center Kendrick Perkins until December because of a torn ACL and also lost backup center Rasheed Wallace to retirement.