Shaquille O'Neal: Where will the next act be?
He made a promise he couldn't keep and put an end to perhaps the most entertaining team in all of basketball. While Shaq had some great times here, he never lived up to the hype, but that was far from his fault. He came to a team that had dissension in the ranks, and never seemed to fit in, no matter how well he played, or how much he turned back the clock.
Shaq played 75 games, made the All-Star team and was Co-MVP with Kobe Bryant, albeit, this seemed a little staged and forced. He tried to put the Suns on his back, and make them contenders, but it was not to be and it seems as though the sun has set on his time in Phoenix.
While Shaq has never come out publicly and said he wants a trade, he has intimated as such on numerous occasions, and was understandably upset when the Suns were unable to pull off a trade to the future NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers (No that is not a typo, I have not seen a team as determined and focused on winning a title since the 72 win Bulls team).
So now the question becomes, where does Shaq end up next season? As a Suns fan and someone who follows the goings of the team closely, I have every reason to believe that he will not be in a Phoenix Suns uniform next year. Where does he fit? Here is a list of 5 possible trade partners for the Phoenix Suns:
Cleveland Cavaliers- Granted I believe the Cavs are going to win the NBA title, but on the off chance that they do not, they will be in full blown panic mode in the off-season. They will be coming into their last guaranteed season with Lebron James at the helm and will be willing to mortgage the entire future in order to keep James happy and possibly, bring a title to Cleveland.
Possible Pieces: Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejo plus draft picks.
Los Angeles Lakers- I know people will think I am crazy, but this will be rumored and may come to fruition if the Lakers again fall short of the title. They have a very fragile and inconsistent Andrew Bynum, and as great as Kobe is, and you don't know how much that pains me to say it, he is not getting any younger.
Possible Pieces: Not a whole lot, Luke Walton, Adam Morrison and Derek Fisher because I do not think they will include Andrew Bynum
New Orleans Hornets- They need to make a change, and I think Shaq is the person they will target. How many times have we seen Shaq dominate when playing with a good/great guard? Adding Shaq to Chris Paul, David West and Peja Stojakovic would be deadly and it would definitely open up some options for the 2010 off-season.
Possible Pieces: Tyson Chandler, Hilton Armstrong, Morris Peterson, and draft picks.
Dallas Mavericks- Well, they are still in the playoffs as of this posting, but they will probably be out tonight. Mark Cuban loves making noise and trading for Shaq would be a loud bang in the off-season. Shaq has said privately that he would love to be a Maverick and it makes a lot of sense.
Possible Pieces: Jerry Stackhouse, Antoine Wright, Shawne Williams, and Jose Juan Barea.
This is a sleeper team that no one is really talking about and I think could come in and make a good offer to steal Shaq away.
Golden State Warriors- They want to make a deal, and this will also get them a lot of cap space for the 2010 free agency period. They will also have the best young talent to offer.
Possible Pieces: Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and Kelenna Azubuike.
Where will he end up, my head tells me Cleveland if they do not fulfill my prophecy and win the title or Dallas. Could he end up being in a Suns uniform next year... I really hope not, and that is not because he can't play, but because we do not know how to use him effectively with the team that we have in place. Shaq will go somewhere, and hopefully for the NBA's sake, be relevant.
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