Free agent Jermaine O’Neal has tabled the idea of signing with an NBA team this season, as he reveals in a pair of posts on his Instagram account. Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweeted minutes earlier that the Mavs, long considered the front-runners for the 18-year veteran, wouldn’t be signing him for the time being. Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com hears (Twitter link) that O’Neal has been unable to get his body in shape to play, a sentiment that O’Neal backs up in his messages. Still, the Mavs will keep an eye on him, MacMahon adds.
O’Neal traveled to Germany around the holidays for a treatment to help his knees, and his recovery from that procedure appeared to be the only stumbling block to a deal between the 36-year-old and the Mavs. Dallas had reportedly been holding open a roster spot for O’Neal, having only temporarily filled it with a 10-day contract with Bernard James, but it now appears that it will go to Amar’e Stoudemire, who’s bought his way off the Knicks. Still, the Mavs were prepared to open roster spots for both, as Stein and MacMahon wrote earlier this month.
Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said in December that he felt his team had a “pretty good” chance to land either O’Neal or Josh Smith, but it appears Dallas will have to make do with neither, unless O’Neal reboots his comeback attempt. The Cavs, Clippers, Warriors and Blazers all reportedly had interest in the Arn Tellem client at one point or another this season, too, but Dallas maintained a solid lead for much of the process. O’Neal played a key role for Golden State last season as the primary backup to Andrew Bogut.