Britt Robson ranked the Jermaine O’Neal signing among the worst moves of the offseason. Really? (Sports Illustrated)
After O’Neal shot 9-of-44 from the field (20.5 percent) and was outplayed by the Celtics’ big men in Miami’s first-round playoff loss last season, Boston GM Danny Ainge was impressed enough to fork over the full mid-level exception for the 14-year veteran. As O’Neal moves to the slag heap side of the team’s pile of proud veterans with bad wheels, one wonders why the Celtics didn’t make a run at Juwan Howard, or spend the mid-level money on a pair or even trio of playoff-tested vets — a million or two apiece for Joe Smith, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto — or maybe even force the Heat to match mid-level money on restricted free agent Joel Anthony, who was better at defending the paint than O’Neal for Miami last season and subsequently re-signed with the Heat for $18 million over five years.
With Rasheed Wallace set to retire and Kendrick Perkins recovering from knee surgery the first part of the season, staunch defense down low should be the priority. Playoff clanks aside, O’Neal shot a career-best 52.9 percent during the regular season and had his highest scoring (13.6) and rebounding (6.9) averages in three years. But his blocked shots (1.4) were his fewest in 10 years, and if he, Glen Davis and perhaps Brian Scalabrine (a free agent who hopes to return) are supposed to hold down the fort until Perkins returns, there could be some more playoff series on the road for Boston next year.
So first Robson advises that the O’Neal signing was terrible, even though he had a pretty damn good year last year. THEN he mentions that the Celtics would have been better off using their mid-level exception on signing Joe Smith, Kurt Thomas and/or Fabricio Oberto (when those are all minimum guys they could probably sign anyway). THEN he tops it all off by suggesting that the Celtics also would have been better off offering the entire mid-level to Joel Anthony, who happens to be pretty horrendous at basketball. Memo to NBA owners: Don’t ever consider Britt Robson for a GM position.