Jermaine O’Neal Rumors: Blazers Join the Chase


The Jermaine O’Neal rumors have ramped up recently with big men around the league going down with injury and the 18-year vet’s apparent desire to resume his career.

The Dallas Mavericks still make the most sense for the free agent big man, but other contenders have joined the chase for his services. According the ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Portland Trailblazers are the latest to reach out to O’Neal’s camp to express interest.

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Starting center Robin Lopez suffered a broken hand in mid-December, causing him to miss action for the first time in over three years, and though he’s set to return in a month or so, the Trailblazers could use another big body in their quest to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1992.

The Blazers drafted O’Neal out of high school in the 1996 draft, making him the youngest NBA player of all time until Andrew Bynum played in a game just six days after his 18th birthday.

Portland currently sits in second place in the west with a record of 27-8, and a talented roster featuring LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard surely is intriguing for O’Neal.

It seems as if O’Neal has become as hot a commodity as fellow free agent veteran Ray Allen. Along with the Mavericks and Blazers expressing interest O’Neal has been linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, and the Golden State Warriors.

But even with a plethora of options Dallas figures to remain at the top of his list. O’Neal has made the Dallas area his home, and staying put would enable him to remain close to his eight-year-old son Jermaine Jr., and his 15-year-old daughter Asjia, an athletic talent who has become one of the nation’s top volleyball players. O’Neal has made it very clear that family comes first in his decision to resume his playing career. Via Twitter:

"“For 18 long years sports has dominated my [family’s] life to a point that they have had to sacrifice things that [were] important to them. So you can believe now whatever decision I make will be a pure family decision that my family will have a huge part [in] making with me.“Do I still love the game of basketball? Yes without a doubt! Can I physically still play? Probably better than 60% of the bigs in the league today! That’s not a knock on anyone but more about how I feel. … I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to play for some great coaches, organizations and cities and I will always have love for them! But I love my family more than I love life itself and they will have the final say on my playing career or the closing of my career!”"

O’Neal has received knee treatment in Germany, a strong indication that he is close to making a decision. Despite the interest around the league, the opportunity to resume his career while remaining close to his family makes the Mavericks the likely choice. Stay tuned.

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