Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Has it come to this for Shaquille O’Neal?
Is there no one out there interested in signing (the aged) former superstar and one-time most dominant (you can fill in whatever moniker he liked to use) of all time?
We have to admit to being a bit stunned that Shaq is now the most high-profile name left on the free agent market, no offense to Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson but Shaq’s still got you in at least that one category.
We honestly thought someone would have signed Shaq by now. When you consider all of the (younger) bigs that have been signed to deals, watching Shaq hang on the vine like this has been a bit of a head-scratcher.
Sure, he’s not the behemoth he once was. The man is 18 years deep into his Hall of Fame career and still more than capable of playing 20-plus minutes a night and contributing 12-14 points a night and 6-8 rebounds a night, as he did for Cleveland last season. You can’t build around him anymore and you can’t rely on him to carry you in the postseason anymore. We all realize that much.
But he’s not even worth a look as a contributor?
It just doesn’t make sense.
If these rumblings are true, that Shaq wants a salary higher than the $5.8 million mid-level exception and a guarantee that he’ll be a starter, it’s understandable why so many teams have passed.
And maybe we’re being a bit too nostalgic where Shaq is concerned. It’s just that we know a good showman is hard to find. And one that can entertain as well as clear some space in the lane and impose his will on both ends of the floor, even in limited minutes, is extremely difficult to find.
Yet, day by day, Shaq is being squeezed out of the market by other, and apparently more attractive options. The Miami Heat opted for a mix of younger (Joel Anthony), old (Jamaal Magloire) and older (Juwan Howard). The Boston Celtics went with the other [Jermaine] O’Neal.
The Hawks, the one team desperate for some immediate big man assistance, are reportedly bringing back Jason “Diesel” Collins intead of ponying up the cash for the former “Big Diesel.”
Again, it’s strange to see Shaq tossed into the hopper with players like McGrady and Iverson — veterans desperately seeking work — when such a premium is being placed on big men.
And in a summer of seemingly incomprehensible fiscal irresponsibility, we’re struggling to comprehend the idea that no one is willing to commit a little extra cash to Shaq!