Get working on those nicknames for one of the NBA biggest players and personalities, Celtics fans, because the rumor has become reality:
The Celtics have signed Shaquille O’Neal.
The team confirmed on its website moments ago that the 15-time All-Star center is officially in the fold. The Celtics did not disclose terms of the deal, but the Globe’s Gary Washburn has learned it is a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.
“It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille’s caliber to your team,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster.”
O’Neal, 38, posted averages of 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and shot 56.6 percent from the field last season in 53 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is one of the most accomplished players of his generation, a three-time NBA Finals MVP (2000, 2001, 2002) and former NBA MVP (2000). His 15 All-Star appearances are the second most all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 17.
“I am honored to be joining the Celtics,” said O’Neal, who will wear No. 36. “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.”
The 7-foot-1-inch center has won four NBA championships, three with the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002) and one with the Miami Heat (2006), and just is one of just three players in NBA history to be named league MVP, All-Star Game MVP and Finals MVP in the same season (1999-2000).
Said Celtics coach Doc Rivers: “I am very excited. Adding a player, like Shaq, is a major plus and it fills a void for our team. He’s a real nice piece of the puzzle and he will compliment us in where we want to go this coming season.”
The first overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft by Orlando out of Louisiana State University, O’Neal has posted career averages of 24.1 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He also has appeared in 214 career playoff games with averages of 24.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks.
O’Neal is the fifth leading scorer in NBA history (28,255 points) and is 14th in NBA history in total rebounds (12,921).