Jermaine O’Neal puts off NBA return … for now


In one day, two potential bigs for the Clippers to sign have been taken off the market — while Amar’e Stoudemire has decided to join the Dallas Mavericks following a buyout with the New York Knicks, free agent veteran Jermaine O’Neal has decided to put off a possible return to the league, as revealed in a Instagram post, citing his body’s unwillingness to get in game shape as a primary reason.

“Every team that wanted me to sign are all championship contending teams and in order to except their offer i need to be 100% ready to go physically and mentally from the time that I sign that contract with no room for error beyond that point,” said O’Neal. “I don’t feel like I’m at that position now with just 7 weeks of training and I’m not comfortable making that commitment at this point. The issue for me is timing and things feeling right. I’m a true believer of signs and listening and understanding life.”

O’Neal would continue in a second post.

“I’m not sure if there will ever be another time or not for me and basketball but what I do know at this moment is the time isn’t right for me to play now. But just know I gave everything I had these last 7 weeks and I greatly appreciate each and every one of you guys for the positive words of encouragement thru my process……”

“…just know I gave everything I had these last 7 weeks and I greatly appreciate each and every one of you guys for the positive words of encouragement thru my process.”

In O’Neal’s last stint in the NBA, he proved to be a key rotation player for a Golden State Warriors team who went without Defensive Player of the Year candidate Andrew Bogut in the playoffs. Unfortunately, O’Neal suffered a knee injury amidst a playoff series between the Warriors and Clippers (O’Neal believed the play to be dirty on Glen Davis’ behalf) that forced him into his current situation: off-season training, rehab in Germany, getting back in shape, etc.

And while there was very little connecting O’Neal to the Clippers outside of an assumed idea that he’d want to re-join former head coach Doc Rivers in a reserve role, he remained one of the many players the Clippers expressed interest in.

The one team that looked to be a frontrunner in the O’Neal race were … you guessed it, the Dallas Mavericks.

The reason “for now” is included in the title is because minds change often when it comes to the NBA. This has been O’Neal’s life for the past umpteen years and it’s hard to remove yourself from an environment that plays a huge role in his life. If O’Neal decides to continue a potential return, the Clippers will likely be interested as will the Mavericks who Marc Stein of ESPN says is willing to wait on a decision.

"A source told that the Mavs, who hoped to add both Amar’e Stoudemire and O’Neal to their bench, would still be open to signing O’Neal if he reconsiders his plan to stay retired."

The market for impact bigs is growing thinner by the day (and hour) meaning the spotlight placed upon  Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis will grow brighter as the season grows and playoffs grow nearer.

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