According to Marc Stein of espn.com, Danny Ainge and the Celtics are still interested in acquiring Shaquille O'Neal or Kwame Brown. Here is the excerpt from Stein's column:
Those two haven’t shown up in the same sentence too often over the years, but they’re linked on this occasion because they both remain on the radar of the Boston Celtics.
The East champs, even after the recent signing of Jermaine O’Neal, still want one more big man after inching to the brink of a full roster with Thursday’s signing of guard Von Wafer.
The problem? The Celtics only have minimum money left. Sources say they’re having trouble getting Brown to accept those wages, so you can imagine where Shaq stands on the idea.
Word persists that Shaq still hopes to be sign-and-traded somewhere by Cleveland that will allow him to secure a salary next season above the $5.8 million mid-level exception. Our old friend Howard Beck of the New York Times did a comprehensive piece last weekend spelling out just how unlikely landing that sort of contract would appear to be.
While there isn't really anything necessarily new here, it is noteworthy that the C's are still concerned with their big man situation. Remember, Kendrick Perkins may very well have a lost season entirely. Even though he'll return after the all-star break as the best possible projection, there is a good chance that he won't be nearly as effective. If the Celtics were to meet Orlando in the playoffs again without an effective Perk or even without Rasheed Wallace at all, they will have a lot more trouble with Dwight Howard.
Stein has more:
…I struggle to envision Shaq signing for a mere $1.35 million for next season, but the idea can’t be completely dismissed if O’Neal is serious about only signing with a team that can contend for a championship, since the Celts are still on that short list.
Tim Povtak of AOL FanHouse, who covered Shaq closely in Orlando when he broke into the NBA, reported recently that O’Neal has been lobbying Boston to come get him. Celts president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe earlier this week than he didn’t want to comment on Shaq but acknowledged that “we’ve had some discussions.” And with Kendrick Perkins sure to miss the start of the season after knee surgery and Jermaine O’Neal’s injury history, there is a legit need for another center.
The safer move for the Celtics is clearly signing Kwame, but I don’t think we need to remind you that Ainge — who was willing to gamble on Stephen Marbury in the second half of the 2008-09 season when so many outsiders thought he wouldn’t dare — is not afraid to take risks.
Ainge certainly isn't afraid to pull the trigger and take on risks. From Ricky Davis to Stephon Marbury to Rasheed Wallace, Ainge clearly just wants guys who will help him win. The Celtics might hold serve on trading Rasheed's contract, but they shouldn't wait too long. Even if Kevin Garnett is much better this season (as well as Jermaine O'Neal) they will need another big to complement Glen Davis off the bench. Sure, he's ready to have his minutes extended, but he can't sub in for all of the bigs.
A couple of trades that could work under cap rules that I would explore:
1. Celtics trade Sheed's contract, Tony Gaffney, Oliver Lafayette and a 1st rounder to Portland for Rudy Fernandez and Joel Przybilla. It works in the ESPN Trade Machine, but I'm not sure that accounts for Przybilla's 15% trade kicker. Still, Przybilla could waive a portion of it to allow the trade to go through. This is assuming that Portland is willing to jettison Przybilla and roll the dice with Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcu Camby as their big men. You could never have enough bigs, but those are all bigs that are worth of quality minutes, especially Oden who will NEED minutes to finally develop.
2. Celtics do a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. Sheed's contract for Shaq and Anthony Parker. This would assume that Shaq takes only slightly more than the MLE (in order to get Parker as well). In a sign-and-trade, Shaq would have to be signed for a minimum of three years, but only the first year has to be guaranteed. Parker would be a solid SG/SF to come off the bench, even with the signing of Von Wafer.
In both cases, Przybilla and Parker are entering the final year of their contracts, so they don't carry an albatross-type contract. At any rate, the Celtics need to acquire another big to solidify that lineup. Even if it's just to get them through the full 82 games before they ultimately become engaged.