Atlanta Hawks: Shaq said to choose Celtics over Hawks (UPDATE: Celtics announce Shaq signing)

It looks like Shaq is taking his power game to Boston.

It looks like Shaq is taking his power game to Boston.

Shaquille O’Neal won’t be suiting up for the Hawks.

Multiple media outlets reported last night that he was “close” to joining the Celtics, and the team announced today that it has signed O’Neal.

“It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s caliber to your team,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said in a statement released by the team. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”

O’Neal, 38, will play for his sixth NBA team in his 19th NBA season. He won three NBA championships with Los Angeles and another with Miami and now will seek another title with Boston, the defending Eastern Conference champion.

“I am honored to be joining the Celtics,” O’Neal said in the statement. “I have played against Paul [Pierce], Ray [Allen], Kevin [Garnett], Rajon [Rondo], and Jermaine [O'Neal] for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my teammates. I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship.”

Shaq’s signing with Boston means the best center is off the free agent market as the Hawks look for another big man to join their frontcourt rotation. As it stands now, Atlanta has Al Horford, Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins at center.

Last month Horford said the Hawks need to add an “impact” center and power forward Josh Smith agreed. Said Al: “We need to have someone to come in and have an impact. I think that is the position we need if we want to be any type of contender in the East.”

It doesn’t look like the Hawks will add that player in free agency even as the Eastern Conference has gotten tougher. Miami’s SuperFriends are in Atlanta’s division, Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq joined the Celtics, Chicago added Carlos Boozer and Andrew Bogut is set to return from injury for the Bucks.

It’s not that the Hawks are weak at center–Horford is an All-Star and Pachulia is an effective backup. But the big, physical frontlines of Boston and Orlando figure to be tough challenges for the Hawks in the playoffs.

Horford is undersized for center by NBA standards and Pachulia is not a big defensive post presence. Collins is a true 7-footer but he struggled with his conditioning last season and hasn’t been a rotation player for going on two years.

There don’t appear to be any “impact” centers left on the market after two waves of free-agent signings. Atlanta was said to have some mild interest in Kwame Brown, who could provide some post defense but is limited offensively. Other centers yet to sign include Josh Boone, Francisco Elson
and Brian Skinner.

The news that Shaq could join the Hawks created a buzz among Atlanta fans. All indications are that his interest in Atlanta was genuine.

He told friends early in free agency that he would be open to signing with the Hawks and one of his representatives contacted the team to gauge its interest, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The Hawks were intrigued by Shaq but weren’t sure if he would be willing to accept a relatively small salary and a bench role as he nears the end of a career that will lead to his induction in the Hall of Fame.

Shaq’s initial contract demands were for a two-year deal that starts at $8 million, according to a person who talked to him about his plans. The Hawks, unwilling to exceed the luxury-tax threshold, weren’t willing to come close to that figure and eventually it became clear that no contending team would pay Shaq big money.

Boston is limited by salary cap rules to offering Shaq a contract starting at the veteran’s minimum salary of $1.35 million for a player with his experience. The Hawks could offer more by using salary-cap exceptions but weren’t willing to go much higher since their team salary is roughly $2.7 million below the luxury-tax threshold.

With the money being equal, Shaq apparently decided Boston gives him a better chance to earn another NBA championship.

MC

323 comments Add your comment

Melvin

August 4th, 2010
11:02 am

Disappointed. Hawks needed Shaq more than Shaq needed the Hawks.

Luke Cage

August 4th, 2010
11:05 am

Well guess he wants to ride the coat tails of another team instead of being the difference.

bigdave

August 4th, 2010
11:07 am

“The Hawks were intrigued by Shaq but weren’t sure if he would be willing to accept a contract for the minimum salary and a supporting role off the bench.”

did they even try..? what is up with these guys.. all Shaq could do is turn it down. he wouldnt punch you in the face. smh.

Luke Cage

August 4th, 2010
11:09 am

On a personal note, my highest ever lol (2nd).

The Hawks basically have the same team with the same problems as last season, guessing 47-53 wins for a couple of seasons pleases the ASG, already can see Horford walking in 2yrs because management just don’t want to take a risk and at least try to contend for a championship. I don’t live in Atlanta so I was getting the NBA League Pass for the last 4yrs but now I have to think about subscribing to it this year.

Luke Cage

August 4th, 2010
11:10 am

And they get him for only 1.4mil, either we didn’t pursue hard enough or he just didn’t want to play here.

Melvin

August 4th, 2010
11:12 am

From the previous blog.

Ken Strick,

Are you at least puzzled why a team that played in the previous Finals would be interested in signing Shaq?

doc

August 4th, 2010
11:12 am

MC i know you were a skeptic on shaq being someone who could help because of all the frills around him. do you still feel that way as the dust settles and we are left with three real post players in zaza, josh and al? sorry dont know about you but powell and colllins are suit material for any other contender and i dont consider them as viable options to replace those three or even fill in for quality minutes. we are mighty thin there.

The Real JC

August 4th, 2010
11:22 am

All else being equal, why not go to the better team with the better fans in the better basketball city and the more storied franchise? We’re the Hawks, we can’t play hard-to-get. Give Shaq a little bit better of a pitch than minimum salary and bench role – that’s like calling him the poor man’s Joe Smith.

@Luke – of course Shaq wants to ride coattails – he’s been doing it since 2006.

Hoops

August 4th, 2010
11:24 am

What a bummer! I was hoping that Sund would come in at the last minute and make a better offer for Shaq that would get him to come to ATL. I guess not.

SteveW

August 4th, 2010
11:26 am

Jason Collins has never been a good basketball player – college or pro – not when he was 23yr. old starting center for the Finals bound New Jersey Nets – not ever. And he’s only gotten worse. What a joke

SteveW

August 4th, 2010
11:28 am

Tolliver, Brown, Boone – well that’s about it – and I know Tolliver and Boone are not “real”centers…

ASG blew that one – the marketing alone would have been worth millions in Shaq

Swatguy

August 4th, 2010
11:28 am

More and more the Hawks need David McDavid!!! Losing Shaq sucks.

ICECOLD

August 4th, 2010
11:32 am

we dint need shaq!!! we got chemistry!!!!! ( bu its still unbeilevable howe people would jus flee too boston.. every good player jus wants it so easy now and days.. its crazy… i hope the hawks win to lead by example that it doesnt take all that to win a championship!!! for real

The Real JC

August 4th, 2010
11:35 am

Ok, so now we’ve got to deal with Boozer in CHI, Shaq and Perkins in BOS, Stoudamire in NY and Big Z in MIA in addition to Dwight in ORL, M. Gasol in MEM, B. Lopez in NJ and R. Hibbert in IND with a 6-10 power forward playing out of position?

If I were Horford, I would punch Rick Sund in the face.

Wolverine

August 4th, 2010
11:36 am

The Lack of quality moves this offseason proves that the Hawks are banking alot on new coach LD motion offense and the development of Jeff Teague. We need to execute offensively, use our athleticism to compete in the East. I know as fans we want the big splash in the offseason to get excited, and we do need another impact player, but all in all we have a solid team that should finish 3rd in the East behind Miami and Orlando…but we dont play basketball on paper…

Sara

August 4th, 2010
11:51 am

A lot of the analyst don’t even mention the Hawks as a top team in the East most have the Heat (of course), Magic, Celtics, and Bulls as the top teams. It’s just frustrating when the Hawks act like they don’t want to make anymore moves. Not surprised Shaq chose Boston over Atlanta I don’t think the Hawks showed/convinced him enough that they are top team. It’s just sad after improving every year but, people still don’t take us serious.

Mike is back

August 4th, 2010
11:55 am

Dang MC, I’m glad this saga is finally over with. Sund and ASG group lied to their fan base when they passed on picking a promising 7 footer with that 31st pick, and settled for cash. They said that money would be used to bring in a Vet Big.

Like I said…they make its hard to be a Hawks fan. What of Josh and Al, they are probably more disappointed than the fans. Even if the Collins and Powell gamble works out…you can’t take away fact that we passed on two promising young 7 footer that we could have gotten dirt cheap. Heck, I thought that was the ASG MO…WTF!!

I’m sick of hearing this crap about we like our core. O well, until around 20 to 25 games into the season…when the Hawks will had enough games to prove to the fans…that they can still compete with the elite teams in the East…I expect to see a ton of empty seats at Phillips…ooooooops my bad…there are always a ton of empty seats at Phillips…now I expect to see even more.

I think in terms of FA Bigs that is still available…I would prefer Boone over Kwame. Boone is a high-energy guy that crashes the board. He plays with more hustle and desire. Boone wouldn’t fill up any seats or bring you the flash of Shaq…however I think he would be a great addition to the team.

Halsey

August 4th, 2010
12:07 pm

Trying to blame everything on ASG is just scapegoating. The NBA is run by players and the top players have made it clear they only want to play for teams where they can get lots of endorsement opportunities, like Boston and LA, or teams where they get tax breaks, the teams in Texas and Florida.

darrell starks

August 4th, 2010
12:13 pm

Halsey are you silly or what ?
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 4th, 2010
12:14 pm

ASG ARE RETARTED.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!

GeeMack

August 4th, 2010
12:16 pm

The Celtics also signed 25 yr old Von Wafer who average 10ppg in 19 min off the bench in Houston in 08-09. If a brief stint in Europe corrected his attitude this could be a huge pick-up.

The move of the summer is the Hawks signing of FA forward Josh Powell. This is exactly what the Hawks have been missing a 6′9 jump shooting powerforward.

We still haven’t addressed the 2 biggest problem from last year inside defense & rebounding. This has been the Hawks problemn for the last 4 years.

The Truth

August 4th, 2010
12:23 pm

Congratulation MC; you’ve earned the “The Truth” award today. This is exactly the way “the Shaq to the Hawks” story evolved, albeit the notion that Shaq is choosing the Celtics over the Hawks is not really new neither is it a big surprise. Now the real story is Sund’s reaction to this revelation. What will he tell the loyal fans about Al and Josh’s request for frontline help? How will he spin this story? It is not acceptable for the fans to be lied to or be insulted with gimmicks about how we almost had Shaq but just missed. This will not work this time as in the past for some. If the fans were to demonstrate their inactions, please don’t be shock or surprise.

Van Jones

August 4th, 2010
12:24 pm

Why would any top tier player want to join the Hawks?

GeeMack

August 4th, 2010
12:25 pm

Halsey

You can’t blame ASG for making smart business decisions (not over
spending), and watching the bottom line.

You blame them for poor management of resources. The Hawks were horrible for 10 year. The 1 year you have the oppurtunity to draft a superstar to go with JJ and Josh, we drafted Marvin Williams. That move set the Hawks back 4 to 6 years. It finally starting to show.

srth

August 4th, 2010
12:26 pm

shaq was only talking hawks to try to get a finals contender to pay him a little more $$ to sit on their bench

Roino

August 4th, 2010
12:29 pm

Wow! Just Wow! I’ll still support the local team but, I don’t think they really want to go further. The Hawks, how can you blame JJ for what he said during the playoffs last year? Management is not only mean to the fans for not going the distant to keep this team entertaining and exciting by adding big names to the roster but the want the players to play uphill every season and over achieve. I think just about every player on this team is under rated and under valued and will be more successful with a team that tries to compete every year by providing their player and the fans the best opportunities to do so…

Clyde

August 4th, 2010
12:31 pm

I have officially given up on the Hawks. I might post when Alabama loses a football gave (which might be 2 years from now) but until then I’m out. We need ownership that is determined to win a championship.

Roino

August 4th, 2010
12:34 pm

I still plan to support the home team though, it wouldn’t be fir to the players. It would make us look even more as a joke of a city. I love basketball…

Halsey

August 4th, 2010
12:40 pm

GeeMack

Get over not getting Chris Paul. The fact is that if the Hawks picked Chris Paul they would never have been bad enough to get Al Horford 2 years later and still wouldn’t be good enough to win a title. Chris Paul would just be waiting to move on from the Hawks to one of the select franchises.

Besides, Shelden Williams was a much worse pick than Marvin. At least Marvin is a solid starter in the NBA.

darrell starks

August 4th, 2010
12:44 pm

ASG
Every year the hawks fans owner ship and gm have been screaming for a bigman for years, now that 4weeks away from starte of football season not 1bigman have been sign how retarted are ASG.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

August 4th, 2010
12:55 pm

ASG SELL THE DAM TEAM.
1. you had three picks 26, 31, 56
not one big man drafted
2. you sold the 31 pick for 3mill – 20mill now you got 17mill you lost
3. you traded josh chill for 2nd round and save 6mill now your lost 11mill
4. you dont sign shaq so you save 5mill now you lost 6mill
5. you sign cheap LD and dont sign avery johnson for 5mill now you lost 1mill
6. ASG you smart you have recover 19mill you lost last year wow.
GO HAWKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Call it like it is

August 4th, 2010
1:04 pm

I’m sorry I was watching the Falcons practice, did something important happen?

O'Brien

August 4th, 2010
1:06 pm

Does the ASG realize that to get these guys, they have to overpay.

If you’re Shaq, would you:

A) take $1.4 mil from a team that won a title 3 years ago, played in the finals last year, have a very good coach and good ownership

or B) take $1.4 mil from a team that got swept in the second round two years in a row, have a first time HC, and a 8 member ownership group that takes forever to make a decision?

I understand not wanting to give Shaq $8 mil. But I would have offered him the MLE for 2 years (team option for year 2).

Is it a big risk? Yes. But the reward could be huge on and off the court.

If Boston, Miami and Orlando are healthy, what are the Hawks chances of beating them in a 7 game series?

Real Talk

August 4th, 2010
1:06 pm

See this is the reason Josh Childress left this joke of a franchise to play overseas LOL. I don’t blame Shaq go somewhere were they are SERIOUS about winning. I just hate to see Al Horford suffer through the destruction that is about to happen this season from the teams in the east that are SERIOUS about winning. ASG sell the damn team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Astro Joe

August 4th, 2010
1:12 pm

MC, is it fair to say that the ASG have placed each and every one of their eggs into the “Larry Drew” basket? Drew will fix the offense, Drew will optimize the players (eliminating the need for a talent upgrade), Drew will fix team chemsitry, Drew will install a defensive scheme that will make our current bigs more effective against the elite bigs in the league (thereby addressing the requests of Horford & Smith) and Drew will provide accountability and leadership. All this in a minimum wage coach with no previous head coaching experience. Is that the game plan entering the new season or have I missed something? (If so, dude needs a raise before he coaches his first practice with the real team).

Fear th Deer

August 4th, 2010
1:12 pm

Fear the DEER!!

MannyT

August 4th, 2010
1:13 pm

The big Shaqrock was coming here under the same terms that Dampier/Curry were coming here when they were free agents.

Overpay and they will say…I love ATL.

Would have been good for marketing, not overall.

Fear th Deer

August 4th, 2010
1:14 pm

Fear the DEER! We know how to make offseason moves to improve our team. ASG SUCKS!

ASHCAN.

August 4th, 2010
1:14 pm

Aww come on guys we can’t start trashing shaq because he chose boston over the low flying hawks.Lets look at the real problem and thats ASG AND JOE JOHNSON hogging up all the $$$ not taking a little less to get a quality player signed.ASG just don’t have a clue,there cheap confused being a flock of BIG DUMMIES when it comes to basketball.

Real Talk

August 4th, 2010
1:19 pm

See this is the reason Josh Childress left this joke of a franchise to play overseas LOL. I don’t blame Shaq go somewhere were they are SERIOUS about winning. I just hate to see Al Horford suffer through the destruction that is about to happen this season from the teams in the east that are SERIOUS about winning. ASG sell the damn team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:25 pm

Thanks Boston. If he had anything left, LJ would’ve lobbied for Miamio to sign him, and not Illgauskas. After all, that’s where he really wanted to go.

The Truth

August 4th, 2010
1:26 pm

This remains me of a car enthusiast (ASG) who bought a new lamborghini but rather drive used recap tires instead of investing in a new set of tires appropriate for such a car. Go Figure!

Hawk Man

August 4th, 2010
1:27 pm

Good. Shaq is old and can’t take us to the next level. He couldn’t make an impact on a team with Lebron James. The Hawks did not have to waste that money on an old pony.

Who is Josh Childress? He couldn’t start on a bad Hawks team, and sucked in Greece! Good Bye.

The Hawks don’t need gimmicks, they need Jeff Teague to pan out, Josh Smith to stop shooting jumpers and Joe Johnson to win games.

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:30 pm

People who think the Celtics got better because they signed Shaq are delusional. They got older, if anything. Teague,Bibby,Josh, and Al will own his old azz with the pick and roll. lol!

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:35 pm

Gee Mack, we addressed inside defense and rebounding as soon as Woody was fired, and took that switching defense with him. When your bigs are on the perimeter guarding freakin pg’s, … Ah, forget it. I’ve been over that one too many times already..

dukester

August 4th, 2010
1:40 pm

See i knew the “we like our core” statement would come back to bite us. To be honest ASG if you were not gonna go out and break the bank to put players around Joe Johnson you should have let him walk. Now his excuse will be i was the only star on this team. LOL Guess what he is right.
LOOK AT THIS TRADE!!!!

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=26cytox

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:41 pm

I cant believe you guys have your underwear, or panties for some, all up in your crack cause we missed out on Mr. OLD neal. Shaq couldn’t keep up with this team. Look what he did to Phoenix. And for the last time, we dont need his azz to stop Dwight, we just need our perimeter guys to stop Jammer.

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:43 pm

Actually, Chills wanted to be here, Realtalk.

terrell

August 4th, 2010
1:45 pm

Do we really need a guy who calls his backyard pool, SHAQapulco?