Jermaine O’Neal may have his best years behind him, but in no way is he intending to use that as an excuse.
The 17-year veteran is bringing his talents to the Bay Area after signing a one year, $2 million contract with the Golden State Warriors that just became official on Tuesday, and he is making it clear as to which role he will not be assuming.
“I’m not coming here to be a player-coach,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’ve put in a lot of time physically, mentally and financially … to ensure that I can put everything that I have into one more year.”
O’Neal is averaging 13.4 points and 7.3 rebounds throughout his career. His glory days were with the Indiana Pacers from 2000-2008, when he made six All-Star teams during that span. He also won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award in 2002, and made All-NBA Teams from 2002-2004.
However, he has bounced around since departing from Indiana, playing for four teams in five years. He spent last season with the Phoenix Suns, when he averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 55 games.
O’Neal has also been injury-prone over the past few seasons, suffering from nearly everything — injured wrists, knees, irregular heartbeat, you name it. He played in 24 and 25 games in his two seasons with Boston from 2010-2012, respectively.
But signing with Golden State may rejuvenate him a little, and perhaps the possibility of contending for a title is some movitation.
“I’ll be here talking about the ups and downs and the importance of seizing the opportunity that we have here,” said O’Neal. “I think these guys are smart enough and are willing to do the things necessary to compete for a championship. … For me personally, if we’re not talking about winning a championship, then we’re not really talking about anything at all.”