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Celtics move to sign O'Neal

BOSTON (Reuters) - Four-times NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal has signed with the Boston Celtics, the team said on Wednesday.

O'Neal was a free agent after one season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and while he is reaching the end of his career, the 38-year-old will give the Celtics valuable cover at center.

Center Kendrick Perkins last month underwent knee surgery and could be out until February.

The Celtics did not release details of the deal but the Boston Globe reported that O'Neal has signed a two-year contract on the veteran's minimum annual salary of $1.4 million.

"It is not every day that you can add a player of Shaquille's caliber to your team," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, said in a statement.

"His past experience speaks for itself and we believe that he is a great fit for our roster."

O'Neal averaged 12 points and 6.7 rebounds last season for the Cavaliers after joining them from the Phoenix Suns.

The Celtics open their regular season on October 26 against a new-look Heat team featuring All Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

O'Neal joins an already experienced team iming to defend their Eastern Conference crown.

"I have played against Paul (Pierce) Ray (Allen), Kevin (Garnett), Rajon (Rondo), and Jermaine (O'Neal) for many years and it will be great to be able to call them my team mates," said O'Neal.

"I cannot wait to get to Boston to get started in pursuit of another championship," he said.

The Celtics, who won a record 17th NBA championship in 2008, lost to the Lakers in the seventh and decisive game of this year's final.

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ed Osmond)