- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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Shaquille O'Neal has decided to join the Boston Celtics, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. He was expected to tell the team of his intentions Wednesday morning, but there had been no word as of the afternoon.
The length of the contract is not known, but O'Neal, who has been seeking a two-year deal, will play for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million annually.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers began pursuing O'Neal last month when the two met in Orlando. Boston and the Atlanta Hawks were the two clubs most interested in O'Neal, and sources say O'Neal chose the Celtics because he believes they have a better chance of winning what would be his fifth NBA championship.
O'Neal, 38, averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the Cavs' six-game loss to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals, he averaged 13.5 points and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes a game.
Although O'Neal is no longer the dominant force he was for most of his 18-year career, he will bolster a Celtics' front line that will be without injured starter Kendrick Perkins for the first few months of the season.
Earlier this summer, the Celtics added Jermaine O'Neal, signing the veteran center/power forward for the full mid-level exception of $5.7 million.
Comcast SportsNet-New England reported Tuesday that Shaquille O'Neal and the Celtics were close to agreeing to a deal. With Celtics general manager Danny Ainge out of town on vacation, an official news conference is expected to take place next week.
Chris Broussard is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine.
5hChris Broussard and Brian Windhorst