11 August 2012
Just weeks after dealing Robin Lopez to New Orleans, the Suns have found their guy to backup Marcin Gortat at center. On Friday, the Suns and Jermaine O'Neal agreed on a one-year deal, that will pay the 16-year veteran $1.35 million next season.
Coming straight out of high school, O'Neal has had a very solid NBA career. Even with getting less playing time in recent seasons, JON career wise has averaged more than 13 points and seven rebounds per game. A six-time All-Star, O'Neal's best years came in Indiana where he was considered one of the best power forwards in the game at the time.
Injuries have overtaken his career in recent seasons though. Over the past eight years, O'Neal has only been able to appear in 61 percent of his team's games. In his last two seasons in Boston with the Celtics, JON played in only 49 of Boston's 148 games played over the last two seasons.
Of course, O'Neal will now have the Suns training staff to help him continue on with his NBA career. Many agree that Aaron Nelson and company are one of the best training staffs in all of sports with continuing the careers of Grant Hill, Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Nash well into their 30's.
Alvin Gentry won't be asking a ton of O'Neal coming off the bench. The big man will need to spell Gortat for about 10-15 minutes per game and that is about it. Once he returns from offseason shoulder injury, Channing Frye will be able to back up Gortat as well. When the Suns are on back to backs and have several games in a short stretch, Gentry can sit O'Neal to give him some rest because of Phoenix's quality depth.
Personally, I am not head over hills excited with this move. Ideally, I think the Suns should have taken a chance on Greg Oden, who is younger and has higher upside, but the Suns were in need of another veteran presence and a guy who can rebound and block shots off the bench.
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