2. Jermaine O’Neal
O’Neal was one of the best big men in the NBA during his prime. He made six straight All-Star appearances and averaged 20.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. The Pacers made the playoffs six times in eight seasons, including losing to the eventual champion Pistons in the conference finals in 2004.
O’Neal remained a key contributor into his 30s. He played for Toronto and Miami before signing with the Celtics in 2010. Kendrick Perkins was injured and Rasheed Wallace retired, so Boston needed a big man. O’Neal was a veteran with playoff experience, which matters to a team with title aspirations.
The 6’11 big man never worked in Boston. Injuries played a factor, but his play did not help. He suited up for just 49 games in two seasons and averaged 5.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 20.4 minutes per game. The Celtics waived him in April of 2012 and his play improved with the Suns and Warriors over the final two years of his NBA career.
Jermaine O’Neal talked about his struggles in Boston. He became disliked in the locker room and was gone before the team’s run to the conference finals in 2012. It was a disastrous tenure that both sides would like to forget.