Celtics

J. O'Neal talks retirement after 2011-12 season

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J. O'Neal talks retirement after 2011-12 season

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

LAS VEGAS If the Boston Celtics are to have an NBA season this year, chances are pretty good it will end just like the last two: With a key Celtics big man retiring.

Jermaine O'Neal told CSNNE.com that, barring an unexpected change of heart, which he says is unlikely, this will be his last season.

Just a few months ago, Shaquille O'Neal retired after an underwhelming, injury-riddled season with the Celtics.

And following the 2010 season, Rasheed Wallace called it quits after the Celtics' Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

"I'm going into my 16th year, so I know my time is near," O'Neal said. "I know someday the ball is going to go flat; you have to plan for life after basketball and that's what I have been doing."

O'Neal is involved in a number of businesses, domestic and abroad.

In many ways, his approach to business - be diverse - is similar to how he has approached the NBA.

"There are some similarities," he said. "You have to be able to do different things and not just get locked into being one type of player or one type of businessman, if you want to be around."

Even with the start of the NBA season uncertain, O'Neal said he's committed to playing at least one more year.

But if the NBA owners and players union can't reach an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the 2011-2012 season is lost, O'Neal said playing overseas will not be an option.

"I have a 5-year-old son and a 12-year-old girl," he said. "They want to spend a lot of time with Daddy. At this point in my career, it doesn't make sense to go overseas and play for half-a-season. I want to be able to be ready and be fully prepared mentally and physically for what may be my last season."

He won't completely shut the door on playing beyond this upcoming season.

"You never say never, but like I said earlier, my kids are getting older," he said. "The only thing left that I want to do in this league is win a championship. That's why I came to Boston last year, because I felt this was the best place for me to do that: Win a championship."

O'Neal, a former first-round draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, is a six-time All-Star (2002-2007) and three-time All-NBA selection. In 2002, he was the winner of the NBA's Most Improved Player award.

With career averages of 14 points and 7.4 rebound per game during in his career, O'Neal is coming off a season in which he averaged just 5.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game - the kind of numbers he hadn't registered since his end-of-the-bench days during the late 1990s in Portland.

"For me now, it's not about scoring or statistics," O'Neal said. "I've proven that I can score in this league, do a lot of good things. For me now, it's all about winning, being part of a winner. That's my motivation."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

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Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
 
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
 
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
 
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
 
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2).  They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. 
 
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action. 
 
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season. 
 
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.

Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp. 
 
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
 
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday. 
 
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
 
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.