Phoenix Shaquille O'Neal doesn't want to slow the Phoenix Suns.
That's why he may make them wait a few more days before playing his eagerly awaited first game in purple and orange.
O'Neal, who is learning a new offense and working his way into shape after a hip injury, is unlikely to play when the Suns visit Golden State tonight. After returning from the Bay Area, the team will decide whether O'Neal will play against Dallas on Thursday night in Phoenix.
"I want to be a little more in tune before I step out on the court, because as you watch this team without me, they're like a great flowing machine," O'Neal said after practice Tuesday at US Airways Center. "I don't want to be the kink in the machinery."
If O'Neal doesn't play this week, his debut could come on Feb. 20 against his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Phoenix plays host to its Pacific Division rival in the first game after the All-Star break.
O'Neal, who has been out since Jan. 21 with a hip injury, went through his second Suns practice on Tuesday morning, participating in a full-court workout before the team left for California in the afternoon.
"I haven't done anything in a month and a half," O'Neal said. "I'm in great human shape. I'm in OK basketball shape. I've just got to get into basketball shape."
Coach Mike D'Antoni said the team would make a decision on O'Neal's availability for the game against the Warriors after an individual workout before the game, but it appears doubtful that O'Neal will play.
"He's not quite ready," D'Antoni said. "He wants to be comfortable with the offense. He knows it's going to be a big splash when he goes out the first time."