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Don't Discount Jermaine O'Neal

Paul and J.O'Neal go way back
Paul and J.O'Neal go way back

A pretty good perspective on Jermaine O'Neal from Tim Weisberg.

Tim Weisberg: Celtics staying in the mix the only way they can |

Too many people have been talking about the "mileage" on O'Neal, because he's a 31-year-old player who came to the NBA out of high school. Not to pull a Bill Simmons here and inject one of my buddies into a column, but my good friend and Celtics aficionado Pat implored me to remind everyone that O'Neal barely played his first four years in the NBA, in Portland, so when he moved on to Indiana he was essentially the same age as a college senior with probably less basketball played than if he had gone to college.

Take into account that O'Neal battled injuries often during his time with the Pacers and over the past few seasons with the Raptors and the Heat, and he's played a grand total of just over 24,000 NBA minutes. In comparison, Kevin Garnett came right out of high school himself just a year prior to O'Neal, and he's logged more than 42,000 career minutes.

Boston fans are soured by what they saw out of O'Neal in last season's playoffs, when he was playing through injuries. During his heyday with Indiana, he was a 20-point, 10-rebound player. Even through all the maladies he's had since leaving the Pacers, he still managed to be a 13 and 7 guy for the Heat last season. If he can duplicate those numbers and provide help at the center spot while Kendrick Perkins recovers from knee surgery and can space the floor on the offensive end, he's essentially giving the Celtics exactly what they hoped they'd be getting from Rasheed Wallace, for essentially the same money.

Count me as one that likes the signing just fine.  He's going to fit right into the locker room and he fills a specific need this team has.  Nobody is dreaming of 20 and 10 nights from him, but he's not getting paid 20 a year anymore either.  He's going to know his role and as long as he's reasonably healthy, he'll hold Perk's spot for him till the big guy gets back into playing shape.

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