Shaquille O'Neal Won't Be Traded Just For Cash

ERIKContributor IJune 17, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 15:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Phoenix Suns looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game on March 15, 2009 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)


"While the Shaquille O'Neal-to-Cleveland Cavaliers trade talk created lots of buzz over the weekend, there is an obstacle standing in the way of a future Shaq-LeBron pairing: The Phoenix Suns are not going to give O'Neal away merely to save money.

The Suns, who could save roughly $10 million by sending O'Neal to Cleveland for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic, also want to gain basketball value in any trade involving O'Neal, according to league sources with knowledge of the team's thinking.

With Wallace considering retirement and Pavlovic averaging fewer than six points over his six-year career, Cleveland would likely have to strengthen its offer to get O'Neal.

The Suns reportedly had interest in Delonte West when the clubs discussed possible deals at the February trade deadline, but the Cavaliers greatly value West and would be hard-pressed to part with him. As it stands, the teams have had only preliminary discussions and will continue to speak in the days and weeks ahead.

Phoenix has also fielded calls from other teams that have inquired about O'Neal, including the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks. While getting talent in return is a priority, the Suns' desire for financial relief is real, which means they will likely trade O'Neal and his $20 million contract this offseason.

O'Neal is open to being traded and Cleveland is his preferred destination, according to a league source with knowledge of his thinking. LeBron James is also excited about the possibility of playing with Shaq, according to people close to the situation."