Jermaine O'Neal a step closer to comeback

Veteran center Jermaine O’Neal posted pictures of himself on Instagram receiving treatment on his knees in Germany, a strong indication that he’s planning to play this season.

Today was a great first day of treatments here in Germany! If you know me then you know what this means! But this is the 2nd step in a 3 step process! The first step being my family.....

A photo posted by jermaineoneal (@jermaineoneal) on

Sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein after the Rajon Rondo deal in December that the trade gave the Dallas Mavericks an undeniable edge in the recruiting battle for O’Neal, a 36-year-old big man who sat out the first few months of the season to spend time with his family and ponder whether he wanted to continue his career.

Addressing their lack of depth at center has been the top priority for the Dallas front office since backup big man Brandan Wright was shipped to Boston in the Rondo trade. The Mavs expressed interest in O’Neal even before parting with Wright, wanting a skilled banger behind Tyson Chandler to help against some of the physical West foes, like the Memphis Grizzlies.

O’Neal, who lives in the Dallas suburb of Southlake and played for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle during his days as an All-Star with the Indiana Pacers, would be a significant upgrade over current Mavs backup center Greg Smith.

O’Neal averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 20.1 minutes last season for the Golden State Warriors, who are among the list of contenders who have also reportedly expressed recent interest in him. Smith has averaged 3.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14.7 minutes during his eight-game audition as Chandler’s primary backup.