Shaq Cleveland Bound?
The hot rumor today has Shaquille O’Neal heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yea, I know, this exact rumor was the talk of the sports world back at the trading deadline in February. It all started with an article by Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic, then hit ESPN and spread like wildfire. After losing to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals talks are supposedly getting pretty serious.
Here’s what the supposed trade would like.
Cleveland would receive Shaq.
Phoenix would get Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic in return.
Not exactly a fair deal for the Suns even with O’Neal’s age. But players alone don’t tell the whole story. Apparently this is a money saving deal for the Suns, and by dumping Shaq they’ll save a lot of it. The following is from the Arizona Republic.
With O’Neal’s $20 million salary (but a $21 million salary-cap number due to a trade kicker), the trade could save the Suns $9.9 million or even more if Wallace wants a buyout. The trade would save the Suns $3.1 million in payroll and projected luxury tax. Cutting Pavlovic, who has $1.5 million guaranteed in his final contract year’s $4.95 million salary, could save another $6.8 million in payroll and tax.
So unlike the Orlando Magic who we’re willing to cross the luxury tax for the first time, the Suns want to dip back below it.
With the Suns missing the playoffs last season and their current roster cutting payroll may be a good thing. The Suns would have plenty of money to hit free agency this summer or even better wait for the summer of 2010. They’d have enough money at that time to possibly sign one of the big name free agents. Suns fans may not like the idea and who can blame them? But in reality short term sacrifices can be good for the future of a franchise.
For Cleveland this could be a great deal. Wallace and Pavlovic are nothing but bit players for the Cavs. They don’t play major roles at all, combined they averaged 7.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and 39:30 minutes a game. Losing those two and adding a player like Shaq would be a huge boost.
Between Shaq and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs would have two of the better centers in the NBA. And more importantly, plenty of bulk to battle the likes of Dwight Howard.
If the Cavs wanted to go big they could have the biggest front court in the league with Shaq and the Big Z, with LeBron James in the back court creating plenty of trouble. Should they decide to only start one and he is in foul trouble, no worries cause they’ve got another capable center to step.
There’s something even better for the Cavs thou. They too would save money. How can that be? Shaq will also be in the last year of his $21 million contract. So all that would come off the books for them when? The summer of 2010.
The Cavs would then have Shaq and Ilguaskas off the books and plenty of money to convince LeBron to say. They should even have the money to go and sign one of the guys, like a Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade. And should LeBron leave they could still go out and sign a few of those young superstars.
ESPN now has a report (3:15pm est) saying that no deal is imminent but I don’t think that matters. This deal makes so much sense on both sides you almost have to believe it will get done, even if they have to wait till after the draft. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll be completely shocked.
Here’s some links to what other bloggers are saying about this deal.