The Boston Celtics will have at least one center next season. Jermaine O’Neal announced he will delay surgery on his broken left wrist until after next season, putting retirement speculation on hold.
“I have a lot I can still give to this team,” he told CSNNE.
With Shaq announcing his retirement, Nenad Krstic reportedly having contract discussions with CSKA Moscow and Glen Davis likely to exit Boston via free agency, Jermaine O’Neal is the only center the Celtics currently have under contract. And he has big plans for next season.
“I know how competitive [the Celtics] are, and I know they still believe they can win another championship,” he said. “I feel the same way.”
Jermaine believes a clean slate of health will allow him to impact games like he could not this year. Like he could not, at least, until the playoffs, when he dusted off his game to provide an interior presence the Celtics desperately needed. Even then, a wrist he broke early in the playoffs limited his offense, and I’ll just say his explosiveness did not remind anyone of Blake Griffin or Shawn Kemp. Often, Jermaine’s dunk or layup attempts were sent right back at him like a letter mailed to the wrong address.
Given a new beginning and fully functioning body parts, Jermaine believes the Celtics can trust him every night.
“It takes time to get to know players, to trust players. I understand that,” Jermaine said. “I think these guys know me better, and now that I’m healthy again, they can trust that I can do a lot of the things they’ve seen me do over the years. I’m excited about the opportunity to come back and get after it again.”
Hopefully this time, his body will afford him the opportunity to stay on the court. By this point, that body’s held together by Scotch tape. The Celtics need a healthy Jermaine O’Neal, but even if his heart’s in the right place, his body will always be like a Jenga tower, inches away from falling apart.