Jermaine O’Neal had a rather productive season with the Phoenix Suns.
The veteran center appeared in 55 games, and averaged 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per night.
He re-established himself as a viable NBA player, and now may be looking to move on, perhaps to where his career began back in 1996.
According to Comcast Sportsnet, the Portland Trail Blazers are an intriguing possibility for the 34-year-old.
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 CSNNW.com. “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.”
The Blazers finished the season with a 33-49 record — a full eight games better than the Suns — but have a few more quality pieces on the roster. Though they missed the playoffs, it appears O’Neal views himself as a perfect fit to help the team with minutes on the court and knowledge as a teacher, especially for Meyers Leonard, who was the No. 11 pick in the 2012 draft.
“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.”
O’Neal was every bit as good as the Suns could have hoped for last season, and it would be disappointing for the team to see him leave. However, as the former All-Star’s career continues to wind down, it would be understandable if he left for potentially greener pastures.