Shaq To Get Traded? What?

The Miami Herald is reporting that the Heat has told Shaquille O'Neal that the team is looking to trade him and to be prepared for a possible deal. Citing two officials close to the situation, the paper reported that the Heat was in "serious and ongoing" discussions with the Phoenix Suns about acquiring Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.

Are you kidding? Is somebody auditioning for Jay Leno's late night comedy team when the writer's strike comes to a conclusion? That sounds completely ludicrous, but is apparently rooted in some truth. Some deals make no sense. And some deals make absolutely, positively, no sense whatsoever. This one falls in the latter category.

I can completely understand why the abominable Heat would look to move O'Neal, who is owed $40 million over the next two seasons and is in the midst of his least productive season as a professional. His streak of consecutive all-star appearances recently ended at 14.


This is how my face looked when I heard the Heat was trying to trade me. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

But I have no idea why Phoenix would look to move Marion - for Shaq? Marion is younger, cheaper, more productive and fits with the Suns' style of play better than Shaq.

I know there have been rumors of chemistry issues in Phoenix for several seasons, and Marion asked for a trade before the season. But I also know that despite missing out on the all-star team for the first time in four years, Marion is still amazing productive as an undersized power forward and the Suns have never finished with fewer than 61 wins when Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash play together. Forget chemistry. Get me wins.

I love this deal for the Heat (It would've been even better two or three months ago, before the Heat was essentially playing for the No. 1 pick in next summer's NBA draft). Marion, a four-time all-star, can opt out of the last year of his deal, which pays him $17 million, and it would give the team considerable cap space this summer.

But even if Miami chooses to resign him - or if Marion elects not to opt out - he'd be a great running mate for Dwyane Wade, who must feel like he's being punished this season. The Heat also gets to escape the albatross that is O'Neal's contract.

But for the Suns, I have no idea what's going on. This deal makes absolutely no sense, and goes against everything Suns owner Robert Sarver has done the past two seasons to stay under the luxury tax. He's sold away draft picks, gave away Kurt Thomas and threw in two draft picks, and sold three-point marksman James Jones to Portland. Sarver is pinching pennies, but at least you knew he was sticking with the plan.

If they make a deal for Shaq, that would basically mean that they are abandoning the style of play that has made them effective. Last I checked, the Suns have the best record in the Western Conference. Is that a problem?

I could go on all day about how this doesn't work from a basketball perspective - Steve Nash's driving lanes would be cut off, Amare Stoudemire would have no room in the post, the Suns would become a slow, plodding team. The Suns would also pay more money to an injury-prone, aging player who doesn't have much more to offer.

And oh yeah, Shaq has a bad left hip. Why would any team - especially the Suns - want or need a 35-year-old, out-of-shape center with a bad hip?

I don't know if the deal will happen. But it's obvious that there is smoke and fire here, especially since O'Neal's representatives acknowledged that they are aware of the talks. This is really odd, considering that Pat Riley said that rumors of a possible Shaq trade were "not true" (And we know Riley would never lie).

An O'Neal associate told the Associated Press, "Shaq thinks something is going to happen."

O'Neal is a big dude, but he's an extremely sensitive guy. You to believe that he is shocked and hurt that the Heat would want to get rid of him less than two years after he gave the franchise its only NBA championship. The man is still scarred that the Lakers dealt him two years after he gave the franchise three titles. It's an ugly situation in Miami.

No matter the resolution, you have to assume that Shaq's days with the Heat are numbered.

By Michael Lee |  February 5, 2008; 10:25 PM ET
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Comments

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I wouldnt trade Haywood for Shaq at this point.

Trading Marion for Shaq is completely absurd.

Posted by: JSchon | February 5, 2008 10:35 PM

It is not terrible for Phoenix from a financial point of view. Shaq and Marion make about the same amount of money, and when you throw in Marcus Banks, the money is about even for next year.

True, they get another year of Shaq at $20 million but I think they will easily make that up in ticket revenue and marketing opportunities as Shaq is still one of the most marketable stars in the league.

Posted by: juandixonformvp | February 5, 2008 11:10 PM

Assuming Shaq isn't done physically and gets healthy enough to play, this could be a good deal for Phoenix.

Banks has been a bust of a FA signing and they've been trying to dump his salary since last season. Marion complains every offseason about wanting to go somewhere else, making it unlikely he'd sign a long-term deal to return to the Suns. And even if they keep him and don't re-sign him, they're so far over the cap that his salary coming off the books won't create a ton of cap space. If they don't think they can keep him, trading him for someone they can use makes sense.

Shaq (again, assuming he can get healthy) isn't going to be asked to carry the offensive load for the Suns. He'll be their third option after Amare and Nash (maybe fourth if you count Hill). His job would be rebounding, blocking shots, throwing his body around, and helping to keep Amare out of foul trouble.

It would be a risky move for Phoenix, but one that could pay off.

Posted by: kalorama | February 5, 2008 11:58 PM

Shaq isnt healthy, he hasnt been right for a couple years, or at least he plays like it.

Now you're asking him to more from a half court team to a transition fast paced team? Not a good fit.

He is going to clog up driving lanes for Nash and Shaq has never been a rebounding/defense only guy, he has always needed touches to perform, even this year he has complained about the lack of touches. He certainly wont get the same or more touches in PHO.

We'll see if he commits to it. I think its a mistake, knee jerk reaction to the Gasol trade.

Posted by: JSchon | February 6, 2008 6:04 AM

Shaq isnt healthy, he hasnt been right for a couple years, or at least he plays like it.

Now you're asking him to more from a half court team to a transition fast paced team? Not a good fit.

He is going to clog up driving lanes for Nash and Shaq has never been a rebounding/defense only guy, he has always needed touches to perform, even this year he has complained about the lack of touches. He certainly wont get the same or more touches in PHO.

We'll see if he commits to it. I think its a mistake, kneejerk reaction to the Gasol trade.

Posted by: JSchon | February 6, 2008 6:05 AM

Shaq isnt healthy, he hasnt been right for a couple years, or at least he plays like it.

Now you're asking him to more from a half court team to a transition fast paced team? Not a good fit.

He is going to clog up driving lanes for Nash and Shaq has never been a rebounding/defense only guy, he has always needed touches to perform, even this year he has complained about the lack of touches. He certainly wont get the same or more touches in PHO.

We'll see if he commits to it. I think its a mistake, desperate reaction to the Gasol trade.

Posted by: JSchon | February 6, 2008 6:06 AM

Shaq isnt healthy. He hasnt been right for a couple years, or at least he plays like it.

Now you're asking him to more from a half court team to a transition fast paced team? Not a good fit.

He is going to clog up driving lanes for Nash and Shaq has never been a rebounding/defense only guy, he has always needed touches to perform, even this year he has complained about the lack of touches, on the Heat. He certainly will get less touches in PHO.

We'll see if he commits to it. I think its a mistake, a desperate reaction to the Gasol trade.

Posted by: JSchon | February 6, 2008 6:09 AM

Lets be honest. Shaq is a lazy, lethargic, out of shap NBA player and has been since his later Laker days. They had an addendum in his contract rquirng him to lose weight and to work out before Miami would consider his contract. The owner even went so far as to verbalize the requirements one nite sitting courtside. Its the same stuff the Laker players complained about . Shaq would not practice - got over weight - etc. Only D. Wade got him motivated for a minute. Now, with the divorce etc. going on...he's pathetic.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2008 11:25 AM

When he got traded to Miami, it became a point of pride for him to prove he could win without Kobe, which is what really motivated him to get into shape. If he gets traded to the Suns amid talk that he's done, I could see the same thing happening again. Plus, the prospect of facing the West's higher caliber of quality big men could light Shaq's competitive fire. He'd probably only be able to sustain it for 1 year, but that's all they'd need. Then the Suns would have him for 1 more year on an expiring contract, making him a valuable trade or cap asset.

Is it risky? Sure. But a number of teams that have won championships over the years have done so after making a deal that was viewed as high risk/high reward.

Should be interesting.

Posted by: kalorama | February 6, 2008 12:11 PM


For the Suns, I think they are making a big mistake. The Diesel is running near empty (if it isn't already empty). He will be a big albatross in terms of their style of play (assuming he can play with his injuries) & contract. To me, it reminds me of Toronto signing Hakeem Olajuwon to a multi-year deal or when Seattle traded for a broken down Patrick Ewing.

I think the trade is high risk/low reward. Is Wes Unseld the GM of the Suns now? :p

Posted by: Allen | February 6, 2008 12:45 PM


What I don't understand is why a Marion-Gasol trade didn't happen. Clearly Phoenix was prepared to part with Marion and Memphis was willing to trade Gasol for essentially nothing. Seems like Phoenix could have found a way to make that trade work and it seems like Gasol would be a better fit in Phoenix than Shaq.

Maybe Shaq has committed to the Suns that he will retire with a minimal buyout if he stinks for the remainder of this year?

Posted by: AC | February 6, 2008 3:20 PM

The Gasol trade probably has a lot of GMs scratching their heads, wondering how they got caught so flat-footed. It's very similar to the mid-season trade the Pistons made for Rasheed that resulted in them winning a title.

Posted by: kalorama | February 6, 2008 3:59 PM

Good point, AC.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 6, 2008 5:00 PM

The only way trading for Shaq benefits Phoenix, is if Mike D agrees to stray away from his uptempo european style basketball. Shaq on your roster extends beyond the basketball court. He can mentor Amare Stoudemire in developing a stronger post game. Nash will have to accept scoring a little more due Shaq being double teamed. Phoenix has an old players on the team with the exception of a few like Amare, but if Phoenix wants to be title contenders with Shaq, they have to be a more half court team

Posted by: B | February 6, 2008 5:08 PM

Shaq is being brought in to play 20 mins. a game give or take and to deal with Duncan and Gasol/Bynum in the playoffs. They can put Stoudemire at the 4 where he belongs and Shaq can pound on those guys when he is in there. And lets face Shaq has always played Duncan very well and that is the biggest problem the Suns have had in the playoffs the last few years.

Posted by: George Templeton | February 6, 2008 5:59 PM

Agreed, George. There's really not too much to worry about as far as Shaq not fitting their style of play. Their thing is to push to run off misses and turnovers before the defense gets set. in those instances (which is a significant amount of their scoring) Shaq won't be clogging the lane because by the time Nash, hill, or Barbosa get to the basket, Shaq won't even have crossed half court. but if the other team's transition defense manages to take away the quick score, having Shaq allows them to set up a halfcourt game that they currently lack, creating open looks for their shooters.

It certainly can work. Whether it will depends on if Shaq can get his body in shape to play.

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