Free Agent Jermaine O’Neal: ‘I Feel the Best I Have in 5 Years’
During the NBA Summer League, the attention has been geared more towards trade rumors involving Dwight Howard and free agent signings around the league rather than rookies competing to make NBA rosters. With no outcome to the Howard saga and a few intriguing free agents still on the market, the Los Angeles Lakers are at the middle of practically every rumor involving the superstar center and the majority of available veteran free agents.
On Tuesday, the Lakers held a workout for veteran forward/center Jermaine O’Neal in Las Vegas, Nevada. The consensus over the past few years is that O’Neal is on the verge of retirement due to nagging injuries and a lack of interest in his services.
Despite no team knocking down O’Neal’s door during free agency, the Lakers are optimistic that the veteran big man might have something left and could be a consistent contributor off the bench in Los Angeles. GM Mitch Kupchak and Lakers Coach Mike Brown attended the workout in Vegas to see what O’Neal had to offer.
Reportedly, O’Neal is more than ready to get back on the floor as a member of an NBA squad claiming he’s turned back the clock after undergoing Orthokine therapy recently. O’Neal talked about how he feels and his willingness to sign for the veteran’s minimum during an interview with Yannis Koutroupis of HoopsWorld.com:
“I’ve made a ton of money in this league. The NBA has been very good to me and my family so it’s not about that. It’s about being healthy and being strong. And again this is by far the best I’ve felt in five years.”
Fortunately for the Lakers, O’Neal is content with the fact that he won’t sign another lucrative contract in the NBA. With that being said, Los Angeles is a perfect fit for O’Neal and prospective free agent Antawn Jamison with only the veteran’s minimum to offer.
The biggest question surrounding O’Neal right now is whether or not O’Neal’s body can hold up for another 82-game regular season. Most teams are skeptical about O’Neal’s ability to stay healthy, but the Lakers might be willing to take a chance on the 33-year-old after he underwent the same Orthokine therapy on both of his knees in Germany.
With Kobe Bryant’s success during last season after undergoing the same knee procedure, the Lakers seem more open to signing players that have gone to Germany to repair their bodies with Orthokine therapy.
Early reports indicated that O’Neal looked sharp in his workout for the Lakers. The veteran journeyman showed explosiveness with fluid movement and no noticeable pain. It remains to be seen whether or not the Lakers are sold on O’Neal after this workout, but there remains a chance that he’ll sign a one-year deal with Los Angeles sooner rather than later.