The Golden State Warriors drastically improved their roster, both in terms of talent and depth, in NBA Free Agency when they were able to work out a deal with Andre Iguodala. Iguodala adds a defensive element to their backcourt and another offensive wrinkle to their system. However, Iguodala may not be the signing that fits the Warriors’ biggest need.
The Warriors agreed to a one-year, $2 million with 17-year veteran Jermaine O’Neal in free agency. The 34-year-old will play behind Andrew Bogut at center, at least until Festus Ezeli returns to full health.
After his long career in the league, it seemed like O’Neal was past washed-up in the two seasons from 2010-2012 that he spent with the Boston Celtics and played just 49 combined games. However, playing as a backup center for the Phoenix Suns last season, O’Neal seemed a bit revitalized and was actually a big role player for Phoenix. In 55 games, O’Neal averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18.7 minutes per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the field.
There’s two big reasons why signing O’Neal is important for Golden State in the upcoming season. The first reason is the fact that they need a player who can play backup center while Ezeli’s future is still a bit uncertain. Secondly, though, you never know what’s going to happen with Bogut given his history, either. Having O’Neal on the roster gives the Warriors a bit of insurance in that regard.
O’Neal isn’t the star that he was in the early 2000s anymore, nor can he come close to playing a starter’s share of minutes anymore with his knee problems. However, for this Warriors team he fits perfectly. He provides them an immediate need and a long-term insurance policy going forward. That’s well worth what they were able to sign him for.