Ahh, what is better than an NBA offseason trade?
To be honest, not much.
I turned on ESPN this morning to see that the Phoenix Suns have traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers in return for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the 46th draft pick in tonight's NBA draft, and $500,000.
My first reaction was kind of a mixed feeling. Shaq was really headed to Cleveland to play alongside Mr. LeBron James and company, but was this the right deal for the Cavaliers?
That question my friends, will be answered during the season to come.
But for now, let's breakdown the facts and see where that takes us.
O'Neal is owed $20 million during the 2009-10 season and comes off the books right in time for the big 2010 NBA offseason free-agent signing.
At the age of 37, O'Neal enjoyed a breakout 2008-09 year, posting just under 18 PPG, along with 8.4 RPG, and 1.4 BPG.
Shaq proved that, regardless of his age, he could still play basketball and produce at a high level.
For the Cleveland Cavaliers, they obtain a huge piece that was obviously missing during the playoffs this past season. With Shaq on their side, the Cavs have an outstanding opportunity to defeat teams such as the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.
While this news is nothing short of spectacular for Cleveland fans, there are a few things that you must take into consideration.
Shaq can help LeBron James win his first championship.
Once the 2009-10 season is over, O'Neal's contract expires, and the Cavaliers get a whopping $20 million to spend on whoever they want.
Even if the Cavs do not win the Finals next season, they will be able to persuade James to stay by signing a huge star during next year's offseason.
Shaq is clearly not the same player and his expectancy to produce at an elite level will inevitably be the Cavaliers' downfall next season.
Being 37, O'Neal is extremely injury prone and on the verge of a major decline in production. If O'Neal were to get injured, the Cavaliers are back to the same team they were a year ago.
The Cavaliers positives outweigh the negatives, therefore, the deal is in their favor.
After next season, regardless if Cleveland wins a Championship, there a two things that will undoubtedly happen.
1. The Cavaliers will sign an All-Star (possibly Superstar) during the 2010 offseason.
2. The Cavaliers will re-sign LeBron James to a max contract.