The Celtics are about to enter a very uncomfortable time in the life of a franchise. Their best produced roster, with four Hall of Famers (at least), a stunning young point guard, and a range of versatile bigs failed to win a championship. Ray Allen is a free agent. Paul Pierce will opt out. And Rasheed Wallace is retiring, leaving a gap down low. So now they have to make the decision. Do they commit to a rebuilding effort? Or do they attempt to assemble one more ride into glory?
The answer is simple. If you have the ability to ask that question, if the dread veil of rebuilding has not been shoved over your head, you take the last shot with the old crew. That’s what you do, because these windows realistically don’t come around very often.
And if making another crack at it means free agent bigs, the Boston Herald has a handful of suggestions that make sense. Brad Miller is one. Miller could work out of the high post, stretch the floor like Rasheed Wallace did, and can handle the ball from the pinch post to the Celtics’ cutters and slashers.
But perhaps the most intriguing option is yet another of the most dominant big men the game has ever seen, though those days are far behind him. Shaquille O’Neal. A Celtic. Think about it.
Shaq has suffered on younger, more athletic squads in Phoenix and Cleveland. He is always saying he wants to find a team that’s tough like the ones he used to be on (because, really, what says tough like Rick Fox and Mark Madsen). O’Neal can still contribute. He had some fine games in Cleveland. But in Boston, he would be a beast. He could mentor Glen Davis, and putting him low with Kevin Garnett pretty much assures no one is scoring at the rim, and if they do, they’re going to remember it in the morning.
O’Neal wouldn’t be exposed in the Celtics’ offense. They routinely feed Kenrick Perkins in the post, despite him not being a great post player. He would feel among his peers, and be given the respect he feels he deserves, without being so starkly in the shadow of one current great as he was with LeBron.
And after all, if you can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?