The Cavs are hoping LeBron James can team up with Shaquille O'Neal to win it all.
In their latest effort to keep LeBron James in the fold, the Cavaliers have landed Shaquille O'Neal from the Suns in the revival of a deal they tried to make back in February, according to New York Daily News.
According to various reports, O'Neal is going to Cleveland in exchange for the same package proposed at last season's trading deadline. The Cavs are sending Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic and a second-round pick in tonight's draft to the Suns. The deal was reached in principle late last night and is expected to be finalized today.
By acquiring Shaq, the Cavs hope the 37-year-old O'Neal, who is entering the final season of his contract, has something left and can get James a title. But Shaq alone would not necessarily be enough to help the Cavs to even overtake the Magic in the East. While Shaq enjoyed a bit of a revival last season, the Suns missed the playoffs, and O'Neal is not the same player he was when he was winning three titles with the Lakers from 2000-02.
"They didn't give up anything for him in terms of main rotation players," said one Eastern Conference president. "So that's good. But Shaq doesn't give them size in their backcourt to match up with the Magic. And as for being someone who can guard Dwight Howard, Shaq can't do that. The Magic are still better, depending on what happens in free agency."
Still, it's a gamble the Cavs felt they had to take. The clock is running as James could be entering free agency in 2010. The Knicks, of course, would like nothing more than to see the Cavs again falter in their quest for a title, since it could give James a reason to leave Cleveland.
James can extend his contract this summer. But he is expected to wait to see what the Cavs do to increase his chances of winning a title. Since joining Cleveland in 2003, he has made it to one Finals, in 2007, losing to the Spurs in four games. The Suns, meanwhile, are in a cost-cutting mode and decided that O'Neal's $21million salary was worth dumping. At last season's trading deadline, they decided to pull out of the deal and tried to make a run at the playoffs.
Besides Cleveland, Dallas and New Orleans had limited interest in obtaining O'Neal, who has helped Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade win titles. The Knicks had limited interest in Shaq, only because of the money that could come off their books, but never made a serious offer.