Should the Wizards Go After Shaquille O'Neal?

Washington has 12 players under contract for next season, meaning that technically, they can sit on what they have and not make any offseason moves. That isn’t a good idea though.

There’s a fairly good chance Kevin Seraphin will end up in the D-League for most of the season. At 20 years old coming straight from Europe, he’s simply too raw to contribute. Even if he stays on the pro roster, there’s no way he plays more than ten minutes a game this year.

That leaves JaVale McGee and Hilton Armstrong as the only centers on the roster. I love McGee’s game and do think he has a decent chance at emerging as a legitimate shot-blocking force, but he’s not big enough to bang against guys like Dwight Howard. Hilton Armstrong isn’t going to stop any of the bruisers either.

So what’s next? The Wizards have a little over five million dollars in cap room left to spend on free agents. They need a third-string point guard, and that might be addressed through training camp if they sign Lester Hudson. They could also use another small forward, but chances are, they will slide Yi Jianlian or Trevor Booker to the three and leave the forward positions alone.

Why not use that five million bucks on a proven, dependable center who can bring some toughness and not dent the salary cap long-term?

Shaquille O’Neal, anyone?

Now here’s my disclaimer: I’m not sold on the idea outright. O’Neal comes with a lot of baggage. Here are the reasons it does make sense:

  • Shaq’s ego is preventing him from signing for less money. He wants the mid-level exception, which is around 5 million dollars. Ironically enough, that’s how much cash the Wizards have. No other team has expressed interest in Shaq for that price.
  • O’Neal would sign for one year and wouldn’t damage the salary cap long-term. That’s a huge plus.
  • Shaq gives Washington a big body that they sorely lack. McGee and Armstrong aren’t stopping anyone.
  • O’Neal would be a nice mentor for McGee and push him to play harder to earn his playing time.

Now here are the negatives:

  • O’Neal’s ego is a major drawback. He endangers the growing chemistry of the young guns.
  • Shaq does take away some playing time from JaVale McGee. The Wizards want to give McGee all the chances in the world to succeed this season. It’s important to remember, however, that O’Neal doesn’t take away too much PT. Last season, he averaged 23.4 MPG and played in 53 games. If Washington sent him out for 20 minutes a game, McGee plays 25-28, with Armstrong filling in when O’Neal is hurt or in foul trouble (which is pretty often).

Of course, this is all just throwing ideas out. Chances are, Shaq wouldn’t sign with a n0n-contender. But if he’s looking for some extra cash, then Washington should be on his wish-list.

What do you think? Shaq to the Wizards a possibility?

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Tags: Hilton Armstrong Javale Mcgee John Wall Josh Howard Kevin Seraphin Shaq Shaq Wizards Shaquille O'neal Washington Wizards

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