Shaquille O’Neal Is…The Big Cuyahoga!!

Shaq In Cleveland

If you don’t have Twitter yet then you REALLY need to get it. It breaks news faster than every sports media outlet around. After a day of trades that saw Richard Jefferson go to the Spurs and Randy Foye & Mike Miller go the Wizards, last night the Twit-o-sphere was buzzing at the news the Phoenix Suns had traded Shaquille O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This is a great deal for Phoenix who unloads Shaq’s expiring $20million dollar contract and saves them $10million in the process as they get both Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic who both have expiring contracts as well. It also allows them to go back to the up tempo, run-and-gun style that they’re used to playing instead of the half court style they ran with Shaq which clearly didn’t work.

On the other hand, for the Cleveland Cavaliers it’s very obvious this deal was made in an effort to neutralize Dwight Howard who totally dominated them in the post during the Eastern Conference Finals. And with Shaq’s track record of winning championships with All-Star perimeter players, the front office — and LeBron James who lobbied for Shaq — obviously feel that this is the move that will bring an NBA Championship to northeast Ohio. But I disagree.

Last week when this trade was still a rumor I didn’t feel it would help the Cavs win a championship. In fact, I felt it would put them further away and not bring them any closer than they are now. Now that the deal has been made, I think they’re still the third best team in the Eastern Conference behind a healthy and in tact (see the Rajon Rondo trade rumors) Boston Celtics squad and the Orlando Magic. I know that Shaq is the most dominant big man of all time and he does give them a better low post scoring presence than Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace, but does anybody really think he’s missing piece to the Cavaliers puzzle?

You have to ask yourself these questions. Does Shaquille O’Neal give the Cavs an advantage over the Celtics who have a high/low post combo of Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett? Given Shaq’s age, can the original Superman really neutralize the younger and more athletic Dwight Howard aka Superman II? And if we do finally get to see a Lakers/Cavs finals next year, is he the guy that’s going to get them over the top against another good high/low post combo of Bynum and Gasol should Los Angeles find a way to upgrade at the PG spot and keep Odom and Ariza? I don’t think so.

It’s obvious that Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry are doing everything they can and pulling out all the stops to try and keep LeBron in Cleveland and showing him that they’re serious about winning a championship. They also know that the window is closing and they only have one year to do it. But I think Shaq’s best days are behind him despite reports that he’s in the best shape of his life. No disrespect to the big fella, but I think the Cavs would have a better chance of winning a championship by bringing in another wing guy to run with LeBron like a Lamar Odom, Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest or Shawn Marion who are all free agents and could’ve been swayed to play in Cleveland if the price was right. This was a very high risk/high reward move and for the sake of the Cavs front office I hope they got it right. If not, they’d better be prepared for life in the basement of the Eastern Conference next year.

Kobe MVPuppet Celebration

Nike MVPuppets – Kobe’s Quickness

Nike MVPuppet – ‘Lil Dez Rapping

The Lakers Win Their 15th NBA Championship…Kobe Named Finals MVP

Kobe Bryant Finals MVP

I’ve spent a lot of timeduring this years playoffs unnecessarily defending Kobe Bryant. From my fellow writers and readers of my articles on Sportsscribes.net, to people on the street, Facebook and Twitter. It just blows my mind the way people view his basketball ability and I personally feel like I shouldn’t have to defend him at all. Who he is as a player and what he brings to the game should be obvious to even the casual basketball observer, but it isn’t.

So last night LA won its 15th NBA championship putting them two behind the Boston Celtics. The sad part about the Lakers win and Kobe’s Finals MVP award is he will have even more haters now. There will be even more people who will come out of the woodwork and try and find ways to say that he’s overrated. Oh well…I guess you can’t please everybody.

Nike LeBron Puppet “2010” Commerical

This one debuted last night during Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Ricky Rubio’s Buyout Saga

RickyRubio

Spanish hoops sensation Ricky Rubio will most certainly be a top 5 pick in the NBA draft on June 25th and he’s expected to make a big splash in the league. After all, last summer in the Olympics at only 17yrs old he more than held his own — especially against the US in the gold medal game — and proved the experts right when they said his game was league ready. Like many others who’d only heard about him and got a chance to actually watch him play for the first time last summer, I was very impressed with the kid. Sure he’s got a lot of work ahead of him but he’ll only be 19yrs old once the season starts and he’s been playing professional basketball since he was 15. He has a tremendous upside and needless to say, his future is very bright.

However, young Ricky is already facing a roadblock to his NBA career before it even starts. He notified his current team DKV Joventut that he wants to terminate his contract in order to play in the NBA. Easy enough right? Wrong. Rubio has a buyout clause in his current contract (which is typical) and the 4.75 million Euro (approx. $6.6 million) buyout amount wouldn’t be considered odd if it weren’t for the fact that Rubio only earned 70,000 Euros (approx. $97,000) this past season and he’s scheduled to make 125,000 Euros next season (approx. $175,000) which would’ve been his fourth year as a pro with the club. After June 30th, his buyout will climb to 5.75 million Euros. So whichever team drafts him is going to have to cut a very big check in order to even sign him.

According to his father Esteban Rubio, they tried to renegotiate his contract — obviously in order to lower the buyout amount — but an agreement couldn’t be reached and the contract was never changed. Ricky is now going to go through arbitration to try and get this situation settled. DKV president Jordy Villacampa is very upset that he and the club are being made out to be the bad guys in all of this and he’s said that they will fight to make sure that what was agreed to in the contract is enforced.

There’s a couple of ways that you can look at this. First, the buyout clause is very disproportionate to the amount of money that Ricky Rubio makes and it can definitely be seen as an act of greed on the part of the club who obviously knew that Rubio would play in the NBA sooner rather than later. But the flip side of that is why in the world would his family allow Ricky to even sign this contract in the first place? Especially given the amount of his actual basketball salary. I know that he was young and his family probably needed the money, but there’s no way that deal even made sense to begin with. This is a contract that never should’ve been signed.

The fact that he’s taking this matter to arbitration and even possibly a lawsuit which would be the next step if arbitration fails all but guarantees he’s played his last game with DKV Joventut and you’ll definitely see him in an NBA uniform next season. Whichever team drafts him and pays his buyout will definitely be getting their money’s worth and a return on their investment, but it’s very hard for me to say that DKV Joventut and Jordy Villacampa are at fault on this. They drew up a contract, Ricky Rubio signed it, and at the end of the day they have a legal right to enforce it. 

Was the contract fair? Absolutely not, especially when you consider that since he’s been a professional what he’s been paid in total salary doesn’t even come close to what the team wants to receive in terms of a buyout. But on the other hand, he knew this day would come and when he signed his name on that contract he agreed to what was in it. He and his family are learning the hard way that in business nobody’s going to give you what you deserve. You only get what you negotiate.