Despite the NBA trade deadline being another week or so away, the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors finalized the much-speculated Shawn Marion-for-Jermaine O'Neal swap Friday.
The full details of the trade were that Marion, along with rarely-used guard Marcus Banks, will be sent up north to Canada in exchange for O'Neal, swing man Jamario Moon, and a conditional draft pick.
The Raptors hoped to get this deal finalized a month ago when the deal was first speculated by writers throughout the nation.
First of all, five months ago, the Raptors were in a better position in the standings. Now, they have a tough mountain to climb as they are five games out of the eighth seed and have to leap over six teams to make the playoffs.
Secondly, the Raptors now had to give the Heat a conditional first-round draft pick as well, something they were reluctant to do a month ago. But that pick could have been a deal-breaker, so it had to be done.
With Marion being a huge expiring contract, and playing a position that is a gaping hole in the Raptors' scheme, I would say Toronto made out well here, despite having to give up a draft pick and swallowing Banks' three-year contract. I give them a B.
The Heat, on the other hand, made out really well. They were rumored to want Utah Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer in free agency this offseason, but now they secured themselves a presence down low to go alongside star Dwyane Wade and rookie Michael Beasley.
O'Neal's contract expires in time for the Heat to get under the cap enough to retain Wade and hopefully acquire another one of the rumored star free agents in 2010.
Dumping the contract of Marcus Banks and adding a draft pick makes the Heat side of things worth a grade of an A-.