Coro: Jermaine O'Neal signs, fills need for Phoenix Suns


The Phoenix Suns have smoothed out the last rough spot on their reconstructed roster by signing free agent center Jermaine O’Neal, The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reports.

The 6-foot-11, 255-pound veteran most recently played for the Boston Celtics, where while not a mainstay in the lineup due to injury, he was still productive when he was on the court. He averaged 5.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 22.8 minutes a game this past season, but O’Neal only appeared in 25 contests (24 starts) after undergoing wrist surgery.

The bigger injury issues for the big man are his knee problems. Drafted out of high school by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1996, the wear has taken its toll, and Coro reports that this summer O’Neal underwent the same German procedure in both of his knees that Grant Hill and Kobe Bryant had done. So cue the obligatory revitalization of a veteran by the Suns’ training staff point.

But experience and shot blocking — in his limited minutes last year, O’Neal averaged 1.7 blocks a night — was one thing the new-era Suns needed the most. Though Phoenix will have a front line of Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola presumably starting in 2012-13, along with Markieff Morris and Channing Frye coming off the bench, O’Neal gives the Suns a defensive presence that will be needed.

Remember, Gortat only averaged 1.5 blocks a game in 32 minutes an outing this past season. Especially considering they’ll be seeing a lot more of Dwight Howard, who was officially traded to the Los Angeles Lakers today, O’Neal should be the final piece to the puzzle as we look toward the season.

O’Neal becomes the 13th man on the Phoenix roster and as a six-time All-Star brings career averages of 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a night.

The Suns were supposedly offering a one-year, league-minimum deal, according to Coro.

Tags: Jermaine O'neal

  • sun also rises

    Not a bad pick up at all. It’s easy to forget that O’Neal did good things in Boston before he got beat down by injuries, I think the Suns can squeeze some more miles out of him with their trainers.

    And even tho it doesn’t have anything to do with the story I also want to point out that I will officially never insult our front office nerds after seeing what the Magic did today. I don’t care how stupid the decisions Sarver and company make from here on out, even they wouldn’t trade Howard for the pile of crap that Robert Henigan did. The Suns look like banditos from what they got for Nash compared to that crap. I don’t even care about Orlando (unless we’re trading with them lol) and I feel sorry for their fans!

  • Zack B.

    At first I got extremely upset. However I realized he’s 33, not as old as I thought. He’s always been pretty solid and I’m sure he’s recovered by now. With our med staff, he might show flashes of his old self much like Hill did. And it’s the vet’s minimum so why not take a chance? I really wanted Oden, Birdman, or Fesenko though.

  • Jason A.

    Good pickup with upside potential. I bet he’s as “menacing” as Lopez but for over $3 million cheaper.

  • Ty-Sun

    Yeah, not a bad choice. O’Neal won’t have to play a lot of minutes most nights and could still dominate most other teams’ backup centers if he holds up physically. It will be a very interesting season for the Suns.

  • http://NA Paulie

    Slap hands….

  • sun also rises

    @Zack A. that was my first reaction too. Then I checked myself and remembered that Boston has one of the worst training staffs in the entire NBA (At least it seems that way considering what happened to Shaq, Ray, this O’Neal and a ton of other players on their team in the last few years) and I realized that there might be more to what he can do. At a vet minimum I’m not too worried

  • John

    Beautiful pick up! I wished we would have gotten him a few years back around Amare’s last year, but he’s still young and hopefully our staff can rejuvinate hm and get him running again. If he can give us 75% of what he once was, we’d be doing phenomenal with him.

  • Scott

    While I haven’t been keeping track of O’Neal much, I would be surprised if the training staff can do much for him. I see this as more like the signing of Brian Grant a few years ago.

    Hopefully O’Neal and the Suns prove me wrong.

    @Steve -

    Don’t give up on the foolishness of the Suns so easily. :)

  • Scott

    Oops! Sorry, that was Sun Also Rises … not Steve. Not sure why I got that confused.

  • Joe

    I was surprised by his age as well. His “basketball age” is a bit older because he’s been in the league 15 years. But still it’s a great pick-up for the vet minimum. Gortat . O’Neal . Frye and a smattering of Scola in the right situation, I think the Suns are looking pretty good at the Center position.

  • sun also rises

    @Scott lolol. Let a man have a dream even if it’s a short-lived one!

  • sun also rises

    Actually I have to speak on that one more time. As lost and hopeless as the Sun’s FO has been over the years, the fact that the Magic actually REFUSED TO TAKE PAU GASOL BACK ON THE TRADE is something so crazy stupid that even David Kahn would laugh.

    I understand that the GM is dumb enough to think that he can turn the Magic into the EC version of OKC but the fact that they took picks from playoff teams instead of selling Gasol off to a team that actually has a REAL first rounder is going to go down in history as one of the dumbest FO moves ever.

    (sorry again for posting off topic but hell if I want to go to the espn boards to try and talk about this. last post!)

  • Roger

    Bring on D. Howard Lakers, we have O’Neal as the neutralizer – say 10 min out of 40 min that Dwight will play Suns every game. Hey, maybe the foul-prone Dwight picks up couple of fouls too. Gentry has the tools now. Go Suns!!

  • Tony

    Awesome news! The Suns get Jermaine O’Neal, while the Lakers get Dwight Howard! Oh, and they improved their bench signing Meeks. I finally figured out the Suns FO’s plan for rebuilding- keep salary cap to an absolute bare minimum, recruit over-hyped players who have far under-performed so far, and finish it all off with a couple of past their prime players such as O’Neal and Scola. Then, when a team, let’s say the Thunder, decides that they don’t want to pay Harden, the Suns FO will contact the Thunder FO and offer them a sign and trade for Harden in exchange for Dudley and Frye and late round draft picks!! Brilliant strategy!!

  • Joe

    Does everyone not realize the Suns are basically the Lakers backups? Dragic- backing up Nash, Gortat backing up Howard, Brown backing up Kobe….. Sucks that the Suns can’t pay 100 mil in salary to keep up

  • Jason A.

    @Tony you suck.

  • shazam

    tony you nailed it

  • Scott

    @Tony -

    But on the plus side … the Suns are giving down on their luck players a place to stay and play. ;)

    @Joe -

    Well put.

    Lakers appear to be paying roughly $28m to Kobe, $19m to Gasol, $9m to Nash, $7m to Metta WP, and $20 to Howard.

    That’s … uh … taking off shoes and counting toes … $83m for their starting 5, and that’s with Nash taking a pay cut. ;)

  • HankS

    In reality, Jermaine O’Neal only needs to stay healthy as long as Channing Fry recuperates; after that, he’ll probably play a few minutes here and there, but no consistent playing time for him any more. As he’s healthy now, I call this a good signing. And with a team as young as the new Suns, a veteran presence shouldn’t hurt, either.

  • Fan in Chi Town

    The most depressing thing about this summer is me trying to come to terms with Nash getting a ring with our sworn enemy and knowing that for the rest of my life all of the laker bandwagoners will be letting me know about it. When I’m on my deathbed the doctor will probably be a laker fan and he’ll flash his Nash #10 jersey just before I go…

  • Ty-Sun

    Actually, if O’Neal stays healthy and Morris plays well as Scola’s backup it could be Frye who spends most of his time on the bench this year when he returns.

    I really do think that how good – or bad – this team turns out to be this season will be in large part on Gentry’s shoulders. He has a jigsaw puzzle with a lot of potential but no one knows how all these pieces will ultimately fit together in the best way. And until training camp starts… I’m sure Gentry has ideas but no certainty as to how it will all come together. Thankfully we’ll have a full training camp and preseason this year.

  • Scott

    It occurs to me O’Neal could also be on the roster because the Suns are preparing for the possibility of trading Gortat.

  • PennyAnd1

    @Joe

    lol. yeah I didn’t realized the backups til now.

    @Scott
    I wouldn’t trade Gortat unless it’s for a guy like Kevin Love. I think we have a really solid PG, PF, C. IF Beasley finds himself this season then we’ll have a solid SF, and we’ll have to wait for next year to find that solid SG. Right now I think Dudley as a SG is pretty ok, just because Dudley’s leadership and IQ is very important.

  • Mike

    Have fun with JO, dude is a whiner and a walking injury. Somebody mentioned that the Celtics have one of the worst training staffs in the NBA I invite you to search who won NBA Athletic Trainer of the year this year. Mr. Ed Lacerte, who has been with the team since the 1980s. Here’s the link: http://www.nesn.com/2012/06/celtics-ed-lacerte-wins-nba-athletic-trainer-of-the-year-award.html