Free agent Jermaine O'Neal: 'The time isn't right for me to play now'
O'Neal has been contemplating retirement after 18 seasons in the NBA, and decided to receive treatment on his knees and begin training again in late December. The 36-year-old said he knew the process was going to be "one of [his] greatest challenges" but dedicated himself to training multiple times a day for seven weeks.
The Dallas Mavericks had been considered the front-runner to land O'Neal, but ESPN's Marc Stein reported on Monday that they will no longer be signing him at this time. The Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers were all reportedly also interested.
"Every team that wanted me to sign are all championship contending teams and in order to [accept] their offer I need to be 100% ready to go physically and mentally from the time that I sign that contract with no room for error beyond that point. I don't feel like I'm at that position now with just 7 weeks of training and I'm not comfortable making that commitment at this point. The issue for me is timing and things feeling right. I'm a true believer of signs and listening and understanding life," O'Neal wrote on Instagram.
"I'm not sure if there will ever be another time or not for me and basketball but what I do know at this moment is the time isn't right for me to play now. But just know I gave everything I had these last 7 weeks and I greatly appreciate each and every one of you guys for the positive words of encouragement thru my process......"
O'Neal has played for seven teams over the course of his career, most recently the Golden State Warriors. He has averaged 13.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game in his career.
- Molly Geary