Jermaine O'Neal plans to return next season


Jermaine O'Neal plans to return next season

By A.Sherrod Blakely

Following the Boston Celtics' Game 5 loss at Miami last month, Jermaine O'Neal was down, dejected and all but ready to call it a career.

But after a few weeks away from the game, O'Neal said that passion and drive to win a championship is still there.

In fact, considering how injury-riddled he was last season, the desire to win a title is even greater now.

"I have a lot I can still give to this team," O'Neal told in a phone interview.

And he'll get that opportunity next season, with O'Neal informing the C's that he does in fact plan to return for the final year of the two-year, 12 million contract he signed last summer.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, confirmed to on Wednesday that O'Neal has in fact informed him of his desire to return.

"Jermaine gave us a great lift near the end of the season, especially defensively," Ainge said. "And we need him. I think he has a lot more to offer us."

The need for O'Neal is even greater with the Celtics' other O'Neal -- Shaquille -- announcing his retirement on Wednesday.

"We did it," O'Neal said via video on the website, "Nineteen years, baby. I thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first. I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon."

Jermaine O'Neal was on the road traveling when a reporter told him about Shaq retiring, an announcement that had nothing to do with his decision to return to Boston.

When the season ended, all indications were that O'Neal would have to have surgery on his left wrist after suffering a spill in Game 1 of the New York Knicks series.

O'Neal said surgery would have sidelined him for at least four months. Even with a lockout pushing the start of the season back, he knew his conditioning would once again be an issue upon his return and in many ways, he would have the same problems that he experienced this past season.

While surgery on the wrist will have to be done "at some point in my life," O'Neal said a battery of tests in recent weeks on the wrist have come back positive.

The instant connection he felt with veterans such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, O'Neal admits also played a factor in his decision to play one more season.

"I know how competitive those guys are, and I know they still believe they can win another championship," O'Neal said. "I feel the same way."

In his first season with the Celtics, O'Neal averaged 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds -- numbers he had registered since he was an end-of-the-bench youngster in Portland during the late 1990s.

But after returning from mid-season surgery on his left knee, O'Neal showed flashes of being able to provide more than just a presence defensively.

Now that he has a year in head coach Doc Rivers' system behind him, he hopes to pick up where he left off.

"It takes time to get to know players, to trust players. I understand that," O'Neal said. "I think these guys know me better, and now that I'm healthy again, they can trust that I can do a lot of the things they've seen me do over the years. I'm excited about the opportunity to come back and get after it again."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.

Drummond on tweets and trade talk: 'I can change my profile if I want to'

Drummond on tweets and trade talk: 'I can change my profile if I want to'

BOSTON – If you believe what Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons are saying, then the former UConn star will not be on the move prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ESTtrade deadline.

Drummond, whose social media posts on Monday and later Tuesday morning only perpetuated the belief that he might be traded to Boston, addressed the trade speculation surrounding him after the Piston’s practice on Tuesday.

“What’s that got to do with my team?” he told reporters. “I can’t control what happens with trade rumors.”

Drummond was then reminded of the eyeballs emoji he posted Tuesday morning, which came less than 24 hours after he re-tweeted Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas’ eyeballs emoji – a similar posting to what Thomas did around the time Boston landed Al Horford last summer.

So as fans and media tried to piece the tweets together like they were clues to a Jessica Fletcher mystery, Drummond did his best to splash cold water on the trade talk on Tuesday.

“I’m a grown man,” he said. “I can change my profile if I want to. It doesn’t matter what time of year. If y’all want to speculate about that and me, go for it.”

Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy has made no secret about the Pistons having conversations with several teams about all their players.

“Some discussions get more serious than others and that’s what happens,” Van Gundy told reporters following the team’s practice on Tuesday. “There hasn’t been a serious discussion about Andre, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been discussions about Andre.

Van Gundy added, “The rumors don’t mean anything to me. One of you (media) guys asked me over the weekend how far along the D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green trade for Reggie was. The first time I heard about it was when I got that text, so I would assume not that far. I usually can just laugh it off, but it gets a little annoying.”