Suns trade Shaq to Cavs

According to a report by, the Suns have agreed to trade Shaquille O’Neal to the Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, $500,000 and the 46th overall pick.

The Cavaliers were also in talks with New Orleans about obtaining Tyson Chandler. If they had not made the trade for O’Neal, they would have traded for Chandler, according to a source.

The Cavs felt O’Neal was the better option because he has just one year left on his contract, and will not eat up cap space that will enable them to pursue free agents such as Chris Bosh in next summer’s star-studded free agent class. Chandler, who had injury problems last postseason, has a player option for $12.7 million in 2010-2011 that he is likely to pick up.

For the Suns, the O’Neal trade is a straight salary dump. Pavlovic’s $5 million dollar contract next season is only partially guaranteed for the amount of $1.5 million. Factor in the disparities in the contracts between Wallace, Pavlovic and Shaq and the team will save $4.5 million next season. However, when you factor in the savings they’ll reap on the luxury tax, it will be closer to $10 million in savings. That savings can be amplified if Wallace decides to retire and the Suns buy him out of his contract for less than the $14 million he’s owed next season.

The trade is a pretty strong admission by the Suns that the trade of Shawn Marion for Shaq in February of 2008 was a mistake. Marion was a free agent this summer and, had they let him walk, their savings would’ve been $21 million — not the $5.5 million they’re saving in this deal.

Our very own John Paulsen had this to say about the potential trade not two weeks ago…

What’s funny is that the Suns walked away from the negotiation table last season because they thought that a trio of Shaq, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire could contend under new coach Alvin Gentry. Stoudemire got hurt, so what’s changed? It appears that the Suns are unwilling to pay the luxury tax price of keeping Shaq on the roster, that’s what.

This trade has the potential to set up some serious drama next season. Imagine a (hopefully) healthy and motivated Shaq joining LeBron in Cleveland. Assuming the Lakers win the Finals, Kobe and Co. will be seeking a repeat. Imagine Shaq and Kobe squaring off for a title next season…

Whether or not this helps Cleveland depends solely on Shaq’s ability to play at a high level deep into the postseason. If they do acquire him, they will need to watch his minutes closely and give him some time off during the season. Winning 66 games isn’t as important as having a healthy Shaq ready for the playoffs.

I like this trade for Cleveland, but Shaq wants another extension and he knows he’s not going to get it in Phoenix. It’s not necessarily a good idea for the Cavs either, as any extension for O’Neal means that they won’t be able to sign a big-name free agent next summer. But if they can rent Shaq’s services for a season and see how it goes, then maybe he could play himself into an extension with an NBA championship.

What do you think Cavs fans?

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NBA Free Agency Rumors: ‘Sheed, Boozer, Sessions and more

SLAM ONLINE has sources that are saying that the Cavs and Rasheed Wallace are working on a two-year deal worth $20 million. The interest was prompted by the fact that Dwight Howard pretty much had his way in the paint against the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals. Wallace will be 35 this September, and has averaged about 12 points and seven boards over the last three seasons. He has the ability to spread the court with his shooting ability and has a reputation for doing a good job defensively on Howard, though the Orlando big man averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds in three games against the Pistons this season. If the Cavs do indeed sign Wallace that kind of a contract, it would trim the team’s projected 2010 cap space from $38 million to $28 million. Also, since the Cavs are over the cap, to make this deal happen, they would have to swing a sign-and-trade with Detroit (for Anderson Varejao?). If the deal falls through, SLAM says that the Cavs may move on to Zach Randolph. Wait…whaaa? 6/11 Update: The Cleveland Plain Dealer says that the Wallace rumors are untrue (and would be illegal if they were true).

DESERET NEWS says that Carlos Boozer isn’t sure that he’s going to opt-out of the final year of his contract (that will pay him $12.7 million) by the end of the month. This contradicts everything he’s been saying up until this point. Maybe Boozer isn’t finding that the market for his services is as strong as he thought it was. It might behoove him to play out his contract, stay healthy (this is key) and join the free agent class of 2010. But by going that route, he will lose the security of a long-term deal. Devin Harris says that Boozer is welcome in New Jersey.

– The RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL reports that Ramon Sessions‘ first choice is to stay with the Bucks, but he understands that the club is up against the luxury tax so things are a little dicey. I think the Bucks will wait to see what kind of offer sheet he gets from another team and then decide whether or not they’ll match, though it would be wise to start negotiations now.

– The NEW YORK POST is reporting that the Knicks are eyeing Magic center Marcin Gortat for their mid-level exception. The Knicks are on the hook for about $24 million in payroll heading into the 2010-11 season, which means that they currently project to have roughly $34 million in cap space. If the Knicks use their mid-level this season, it will trim that space by about $6 million.

– Contrary to earlier reports, if his agent has any say, it’s going to be tough for Ben Wallace to retire, according to the NEWS-HERALD. It would be the best thing for the Cavs, but Arn Tellem isn’t going to let him walk away from $14 million.

Cavs’ front line in flux

Ben Wallace is considering retirement, Anderson Varejao is likely to opt out of the final year of his contract, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will play out the final year of his.

Wallace is guaranteed the money and has every right to come back and accept the checks under terms of the deal. More likely if he couldn’t play, the Cavs would look to perhaps get insurance to cover some of the salary and look to trade him. He’d be a valuable commodity because of the expiring contract and teams looking to dump salaries covet them.

There is also a possibility that Wallace could negotiate a buyout of his deal and take a percentage of what he’s owed. But even in that case it would potentially make him a huge trade asset. A team could trade for him at the value of his contract ($14 million) and then save money by buying him out.

I’m not quite an NBA salary cap expert, but I have a pretty good understanding of the rules. Even so, I’m not sure what the financial impact would be of what Wallace is considering. Without Wallace and Varejao, but with Ilgauskas, the Cavs are on the hook for about $53 million, possibly a bit less since there are a few contracts included that aren’t 100% guaranteed. If Wallace were to come completely off the books, that would put the Cavs about $5 million under the cap, which really doesn’t help them all that much since they can already sign a player at the mid-level for about $5.8 million. Where a team really gains an advantage is when they have substantially more than the mid-level in cap space.

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The NBA’s 68 worst contracts

The economy is really starting to take its toll on professional sports, and the NBA is no different. Bad contracts are bad even when the economy is pumping, but they really stand out in tough times like these. So I decided to look through the payrolls team-by-team to try to identify the worst contracts in the NBA. I expected to list 15-20 names, but I ended up scribbling down 68. That’s right, there are no fewer than 68 bad contracts in the NBA.

I didn’t include any of the players that are in the final year of their contracts because…well, what’s the point? They’ll be off the books in a few months anyway. Instead, I wanted to focus on those contracts that are going to haunt teams for years to come, so to be eligible, players have to have at least a year left on their current deals.

It’s tough to compare someone making superstar money to an average, everyday role player, so I split these 68 contracts up into three groups: the Overpaid Role Players, the Not-So-Super Stars and the Injury-Prones. I will rank them from least-worst to most-worst with the thinking that I wouldn’t trade the player for anyone further down the list but I would trade him for anyone previously mentioned. So, for example, if a guy is listed #7 within a particular group, I’m not trading him for anyone ranked #6-#1, but I would think seriously about moving him for a guy that is ranked #8+.

So let’s start with the role players and go from there…

(Note: In most cases, I don’t blame the player himself for his outrageous contract. The fault lies with the general manager that inked the guy to the deal. However, this rule goes out the window if the player has a history of only producing in his contract year – I’m looking at you, Tim Thomas.)

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NBA trade rumors: Shaq to Cleveland?

6/16/09 Update: For discussion about the more recent Shaq rumors, click here.

6/25 Update: Shaq has been reportedly traded to Cleveland.

The trade deadline is at 3 PM ET today, and the rumors are flying fast and furious. I’m not going to spend too much time on each one, but here’s a rundown of the rumors…

Yahoo! Sports says that the Cavs are considering acquiring Shaquille O’Neal at the cost of Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. I’m not sure what the upside is here for the Suns other than the fact that they’d get about $5 million in cap relief next season when Pavlovic’s salary comes off the books.

– The NBA league office apparently sent out a memo warning of drastic reductions in the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds, which may have a few teams scrambling today.

– There was some talk of a Tracy McGrady-for-Baron Davis deal, but that rumor seems to be dead.

– The Suns are reportedly still trying to pry talent away from the Grizzlies, offering up Amare Stoudemire for Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick and a 2009 first round draft pick. Unsurprisingly, the Grizzlies have declined.

– The Bucks are trying to get out from under Richard Jefferson’s contract and they’ve been making some headway with the Blazers and Cavs about Raef LaFrentz and Wally Szczerbiak, respectively.

– The Cavs have been trying to pry Antwan Jamison away from the Wizards, who might be more willing to deal today with the news about the (possible) significant drop in the luxury tax threshold.

– The Vince Carter-to-the-Spurs talk has died down because they don’t want to give up Roger Mason or George Hill in the deal. Apparently, they want the Nets to give Carter away.

Deadline day is like a poker game with 20 people playing. Teams are holding out until the last minute hoping that they can get the best deal. Complicating matters is the state of the economy and the financial strength of the NBA. There could be a flurry of trades today or everyone could stand pat.

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