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.