The Mercury News
Celtics sign Shaq to help Big Three
Charismatic center hopes to add to his four titles, Boston’s 17
Shaquille O’Neal has changed the Big Three of the Boston Celtics into a Very Big Four.
The 7-foot-1, 325-pound center in the twilight of a brilliant career signed a two-year contract Wednesday worth about $ 3 million with the Eastern Conference champions, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said. O’Neal is hoping to add to his four NBA titles.
If he completes his contract with the Celtics, Shaq would end a colorful 20-year career with a legendary franchise on the parquet floor beneath 17 championship banners.
O’Neal will play on that floor with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, Boston’s “ Big Three” since Garnett and Allen arrived before the 2007-08 season
n New Jersey center Brook Lopez, struggling to recover from a bout with mononucleosis, withdrew from the U. S. national team and will be replaced by Washington’s JaVale McGee.
n The Detroit Pistons resigned center Ben Wallace, 35, to a two-year contract worth $ 1.9 million per season.
Wallace, solid last season in his return to Detroit, helped the Pistons win the 2004 NBA title, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award four times in a fiveyear stretch.
The Sharks signed freeagent forward Jamal Mayers, 35, to a one-year contract.
Mayers ( 737 career games) split time last season with Toronto and Calgary, with three goals, 11 assists and 131 penalty minutes in 71 games.
The Sharks also re-signed minor league center Steven Zalewski.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones was picked for the roster for the United States’ exhibition next Tuesday against Brazil and could make his national team debut then.
n Last-place D. C. United in Major League Soccer fired coach Curt Onalfo and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant coach and former U. S. national team player Ben Olsen.
Sam Querrey made two double faults at crucial times, and Janko Tipsarevic took advantage to upset the sixthseeded American 7-6 ( 3), 6-3 in the second round of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington.
Alisa Kleybanova beat second-ranked Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-2 in a secondround match at the Mercury Insurance Open in Carlsbad.
Michael Phelps won the 200-meter freestyle and, an hour later, the 200 butterfly at the U. S. national championships in Irvine.
Undefeated mare Zenyatta ( 17-0) has been entered in Saturday’s $ 300,000 1 ⁄ mile Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar.