Recently, SI's Britt Robson compiled a list of the worst moves of the NBA off-season. As expected, the perplexing signings of Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay to max-deals appear on the list. However, in Robson's eyes, sharing their company is a move made by the Celtics as well - the signing of Jermaine O'Neal.
"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"
I would have to disagree with Robson on the O'Neal move. While Celtics fans may have been hoping to bring in someone that would create a bigger splash than Jermaine O'Neal, he seems to make the most sense for Boston. Despite being a veteran himself, he's a much better option than the aging Brad Miller or Shaquille O'Neal. Also, the starting role he'll begin the 2010-11 season with will only be keeping the spot warm for Perkins' return.
Robson does mention; post-season struggles aside, that O'Neal had a very good regular season. He averaged 13.6 ppg and 6.9 rebounds for the Heat last year, which were his highest totals in 3 years. In addition, O'Neal shot 52.5 percent from the field (the best in his career). The 31 year old Center was battling an ankle injury when he faced Boston in last season's playoffs. A fact Ainge believes excuses his miserable performance in which he averaged a measly 4.2 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Despite this, Robson still believes Ainge and the C's had better options.
"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."
In a recent meeting with the media, Paul Pierce appeared dissatisfiedwith the team's off-season moves. While he noted that he liked the Jermaine O'Neal signing, he seemed anxious for some bigger moves, saying, "I wish we'd get on the ball a little bit".
In an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's DA Show, Celtics President, Rich Gotham, reacted to Pierce's comments and defended Boston's moves. "...He probably doesn't see quite as clearly what Danny sees.." Gotham said. "...Which is you've got certain governing rules being the CBA and we're not able to go out and sign certain players so we had a mid-level exception to use and a veteran minimum to use...What you hope is that when the feeding frenzy's over that there's maybe a few good quality players out there that you can get for the veteran minimum and we've been successful doing that in past seasons so hopefully that'll happen again."
Since signing O'Neal, the Celtics have seen Tony Allen leave for the Grizzlies and Shelden Williams depart for Denver. While they re-signed Nate Robinson to a 2-year, $9 million deal, the team still needs players to back up the aging Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, as well as another big man.