Apr 29

Haynes: Jermaine O’Neal Open To Returning To Blazers

By sarahhecht

Chris Haynes of reported yesterday former Trail Blazer Jermaine O’Neal would be interested in returning to Portland if his services were needed. The 17-year NBA veteran was drafted by the Trail Blazers in 1996 and played for the team for four seasons before being traded.

“I'm very open to Portland. They're definitely a team I'm looking forward to having talks with this summer,” O'Neal, an unrestricted free agent come July 1, told “LaMarcus [Aldridge] and Damian [Lillard] along with [Nicolas] Batum are some great pieces to build around. All they need to do is shore up the bench and add a paint presence on defense and they'll be right there. It's hard to put that type of stress on your starting five and I know I can help ease some of that stress.”

O’Neal also shared his thoughts on Portland's young center Meyers Leonard and how he could contribute to his development.

“I like Meyers,” he said. “He's an athletic talent that is going to get even better in this league. But I think I can help him become a better defender, rebounder, shot blocker. That's part of the job, veterans helping out the younger players. I did that here in Phoenix and that is something I would do in Portland if signed there.”

There’s no doubt acquiring a veteran big is at the top of the Trail Blazers to-do list, but is 34-year-old O’Neal that guy? You tell me.


  1. I would love to get Jermaine O'Neal! Here are my reasons... 1)He's played in Portland before, so he knows what to expect. 2)He's an experienced vet that has accepted the roll of mentor. 3)If he will accept the veterans minimum we'll have more money for other players.

    by JR_Spahn on 4/29/2013 4:13 PM
  2. Hey @JR, all great points! What about this angle though: Is Jermaine the starting center we're looking for? And if not, what would his role be if we land the defensive-minded center we need and Meyers gets the backup minutes?

    Food for thought... thanks for commenting!

    by sarahhecht on 4/29/2013 4:44 PM
  3. For a price that is right Jermaine would be good. I don't know how much he has in his tank but it would be great for him to start out his career and end up his career in Portland

    by Hg on 4/29/2013 4:47 PM
  4. Hey Miss Sarah: Leonard is about 2years out from starting, for the Vet Minimum we could use Jermaine as the starting center and let Leonard back up for next year, maybe he could see and do and learn faster. Of course IMO, Leonard is the center of the Future, so a gap stop good defensive center would be ideal.

    Saying if we got a true young starting center that would stunt Leonard.

    by Hg on 4/29/2013 4:57 PM
  5. Hg, I like where your head's at. I think I'm somewhere in the middle in that Meyers is the future and we do need someone to fill the next few years as he develops, but I think we can do better than an older, somewhat injury-prone player. When I look through the FA class for this summer some of the names that pop out to me are Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert, Emeka Okafor and maybe even big Al Jefferson. IMO, they're all better options than Jermaine.

    by sarahhecht on 4/30/2013 9:35 AM
  6. If we found our defensive minded center to start we could still use Jermaine. He's at the end of his career and if he doesn't get a better offer i would love to have him as a 14th or 15th player. He still has use as a mentor and a guy that makes our bench just that much stronger.

    I would love to be able to land Kaman or Jefferson!! Dalembert is old, and Okafor has had personality issues.

    by JR_Spahn on 4/30/2013 9:49 AM
  7. JR, I like that angle. Well played!

    by sarahhecht on 4/30/2013 10:11 AM
  8. We need a vet center to teach Meyers defense. Correct me if I'm wrong but I do not believe Kamen and Jefferson can't teach him something they don't know much about. O'neal would be perfect to work with him and could come at the right price to do so. In addition it would provide him a chance to end where he started so win win.

    by ramblepat on 4/30/2013 12:22 PM
  9. @Ramblepat I see where you're coming from on the defensive side of things and totally agree that's a priority. I was hollering about it all season! The trick is going to be getting someone who can bang in the middle, teach Meyers defense and be a contributor who can, in the words of Neil Olshey, "move the needle." I think it's going to be key to find a nice combination, though undoubtedly we'll have to sacrifice somewhere.

    Personally, I think O'Neal is too old and injury-ridden to fill the role we need from our starting center. As far as being further down the bench, I'd bite on that.

    by sarahhecht on 4/30/2013 12:34 PM
  10. Oh Miss Sarah, you are so wise; We will have to sacrifice a little but not that much; You and I had a conversation once about our bigs matching up. LMA and JJ was great, and I believe Meyers and Joel would be great as it is right now because Meyers is not a banger yet and we can only hope he will be one, so in the mean time we could use Big All not Karmen, as I don't think he would help.
    I almost have to side with you on the O'Neil and injuries and age. If we are going that old, I would just as soon get Joel Przybilla back.

    by Hg on 4/30/2013 3:17 PM
  11. does nobody remember jermaine o'neal and jj going back and forth earlier this season? i think he has much more left than pryzbilla but probably not for a starter. vet's minimum and you pretty much have to unless it interferes with something bigger.

    by The Unholy on 4/30/2013 6:08 PM
  12. Much more important needs to fill at this point. If those needs get addressed, then Oneal would be a fine contribution if he fits the mix.

    by Divotking on 5/1/2013 6:12 PM
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