DALLAS -- Veteran big man Jermaine O'Neal, who put comeback plans on hold this week, intends to make a firm decision on whether he wants to retire this summer.
The Dallas Mavericks expected to sign the 36-year-old O'Neal this month, but he informed them and other interested teams Monday that he wasn't ready to commit to returning to the NBA at this time.
"What I'm going to do going forward is I'm going to work out twice a week on the court just to keep my body and mind affiliated with basketball," O'Neal said Wednesday on 103.3 FM's "Friedo and Fitzsimmons" in Dallas. "Come July 1, if I can't say I want to play on July 1 to my agent, then I'm officially retiring and enjoying my family and [Dallas suburb] Southlake and the community."
O'Neal, an 18-year veteran and a six-time All-Star, took the first half of the season off to focus on spending time with his family and some business interests. He began pursuing a comeback in December, taking a trip to Germany for treatment on his knees and starting to seriously train at the start of the new year.
O'Neal acknowledged that he had a setback with his foot in the fourth week of his training, but he said he felt like he would have been physically able to play in the NBA this season.
"It had to be right, and I wanted to make sure that whatever that commitment was, I could answer that and I could do the things that the team and the fan base expected me to do," O'Neal said. "I just, through the process of six or seven weeks, when it came down to the Mavs or the Warriors or Portland or whoever it may be needing an answer, I just felt like I wasn't doing them any justice because I felt like I wasn't ready to do it.
"And it wasn't because I physically couldn't do it. They just needed to know right now. The timing wasn't right. I don't want you guys committing to me for a job that I feel like I wasn't 100 percent ready to commit for."
O'Neal said he believes he "probably can play two more years at a level that I played last year with Golden State." He averaged 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game with the Warriors last season.
The Mavs will continue to monitor O'Neal's progress. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, an assistant in Portland when O'Neal broke into the league as a first-round pick fresh out of high school, and his head coach during four prime seasons with the Indiana Pacers, worked out O'Neal recently and plans to stay in touch with the big man.
"We understood that there were no guarantees with this thing and we appreciate all of his efforts," Carlisle told ESPN's Marc Stein on Monday. "He did all of this stuff by himself. He went to Germany to get treatment on his knees and then he went through a rigorous process of conditioning. He only wanted to play for the Mavs, and he did everything in his power to make it happen.
"Unfortunately it was not meant to be right now, but my relationship with him goes back for almost two decades, so we want to keep all communication open for the possibility he could play with us next year."