Six-time NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal decided he didn’t want to spend one of his remaining seasons in the league watching Miami’s new star trio sort themselves out.
So he’s moving from the Heat to the Boston Celtics, just when a welter of players are lining up for a chance to play alongside the Heat’s newly formed super group of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
“I knew what they were trying to do and I could have re-signed back with those guys, but it comes down to fit,” he said on Wednesday after passing his physical with the Boston Celtics. “It comes down to personalities and style of play, and I thought Boston has all that for me. It came down to winning now and not worrying about chemistry.”
O’Neal agreed last week to a two-year deal. For the time being he is expected to start in place of injured center Kendrick Perkins. He said once Perkins is healthy, he’d be happy with a reserve role.
“Being a part of something great is what matters to me,” O’Neal said at Boston’s training facility. “I know what the city represents. I know what the organization represents. I know what the guys on the court represent. Obviously, those guys they have a ring already, but they want another one. I don’t have one and I want one. They know what it takes to get one.”
Perkins was injured in Game 6 of the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers and missed the deciding Game 7 in which the Lakers triumphed.
He had surgery on his right knee on Monday and will likely be out until February.
“When he comes back, it’s his position to have,” O’Neal said. “I’m just here to do my job. I’m not trying to step on anybody’s feet. I’m not trying to do anything to cause any issues. I’m here to win. That’s just really what it boils down to.”
While O’Neal admits that he is in “the stretch run” of his career, he said he believed he could still contribute.
“I believe that my play will speak for itself,” he said.
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