Breaking Down The Off-Season: Pt. 1

Robert C BinyonContributor IIJune 28, 2009

MIAMI - FEBRUARY 01:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Miami Heat greets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers before the game at American Airlines Arena February 1, 2007 in Miami, Florida. 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 Doug Benc/Getty Images)



Suns Trade: Shaquille O’Neal
Cavaliers Trade: Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, Second Round Pick 2010, $500k

Ahh, the good old days. Kobe to Shaq, Shaq to Kobe…I miss those days. I wasn’t quite into basketball when Shaq was in Orlando, but boy was I in love with basketball by the time he was in L.A. And man, what a time to love basketball, three titles in a row?


Then what do we do? We go and get Karl Malone and Gary Payton, sending Derek Fisher and Robert Horry to the bench. Two of the greatest role players of their era, and make them play a small role, so we can have four hall of famers on the court at the same time.

Hey, at the time? It sounded great, although I was skeptical even then. I didn’t know as much about conflicting personalities then as I do now, but the thought crossed my mind, with the help of ESPN, that having 4 guys on the same team that were all used to being the go-to-guy most likely wasn’t going to end well.

I mean, it was hard enough to cut the ball in half every game for Kobe and Shaq already. Now throw in The Glove and The Mailman. Everyone assured fans that Malone and Payton just wanted a championship, and that they’d do whatever it took to get one. Hah. That didn’t work.

Throw in Kobe’s rape trial, and we single handedly ruined The Dynasty. That team(minus Karl and Gary) could have won at least two more championships, even possibly in a row. So what ended up happening? We gave the team to Kobe, gave Shaq away, and started over again.

Shaq went on to win a title in Miami, overstay his welcome and get traded to Phoenix. What did he do in Phoenix? He huffed and puffed for a half a season, and actually seemed to stay healthy. Got in better shape over the off-season and then proved this past season that he could still dominate if he truly wanted to.

He didn’t always play in back-to-back games, but when motivated, The Big Diesel still can drive like an 18-wheeler, not your dad’s beat up ’84 Ford. But, aside from proving he was still alive, he proceeded to gain his teammate’s respect, many Suns said he was the team leader, and go-to guy in the crunch.

So, in a way Shaq destroyed the Suns’ relationship with star forward Amare Stoudemire. Damaging another team. Now he’s on his way to the Cavs for basically nothing more than salary cap compensation. Sasha Pavlovic had his moments for Cleveland, but he really won’t be missed, and Big Ben was past his prime by the time he got to Cleveland.

He still helped on defense, but talks of his possible retirement mean that Cleveland would have been losing him regardless. The big question mark from this whole deal is this. Will it work? Will Shaq and LeBron be able to co-exist? Will Shaq be able to stay healthy? Will Shaq take the backseat, or will he want to be the co-pilot?

I’ve loved Shaq his entire career, I love his attitude, his zeal, all the charitable things he does for the community, the fun he has, when Shaq leaves he will be missed league wide. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that this trade to Cleveland may sound better than it really is.

As a diehard Laker fan I obviously don’t want the Cavaliers to instantly dominate, but the truth is, if this trade works, the Cavaliers are going to be scary. Real scary.

Magic Trade: Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, Courtney Lee
Nets Trade: Vince Carter, Ryan Anderson

When I saw the headline, I cringed. This makes the Magic a lot better, right now. Makes them an instant favorite to repeat in attending the NBA Finals. Barring unforeseen consequences. They really don’t get any worse, and that’s always a trade you’re afraid of when you’re an opposing team, especially an opposing team who just played this team in the Finals.


They give up Rafer Alston, who this upcoming season would have been nothing more than an overpaid backup to Jameer Nelson. They give up Tony Battie, who at times played great basketball for them. But he too, is a big contract playing off the bench.

So far they’ve shed two big contracts at the expense of no starting players. Now they lose something of some pretty considerable value. Their rookie guard, who started this season for them, showed a lot of improvement down the stretch and especially in the playoffs.

Of course, a lot of people may remember him for missing that alley-oop off the inbounds pass in game 2 of the Finals. But that’s unfair. He had really improved his mid-range game, and is a very tenacious player. Now to what the Magic get in return…a lot.

They get Vince Carter, an 8-time All Star, and 20 point per game scorer. A guy who can fit into their offense of run and gun, can shoot from everywhere, and hit the hole with a vengeance. The only real thing they lose with this is getting rid of a rookie guard, and replacing him with a guy who has 3 or 4 more good years left in him, once again barring serious injury.

The Magic also get a young guy in Ryan Anderson, who to be truthful, I haven’t really seen much of. We’ll see if maybe they can use him. What I do know is that he’s a big guy, kind of like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu in that he’s tall and can play both PF and SF, he also has a little outside touch.

Who wins in this situation? Well really both teams do. The Nets at one point in time this past season looked like they could make the playoffs as a low seed. That was probably their peak with that group of guys, and I think they realized that.

They get rid of Carter, and his contract, and gain two guys who can play this next season, help the team, and then leave at the end of the season, leaving the Nets with a lot of money. In addition to that, they get the young gun Courtney Lee, who looks to have a good amount of upside to him. Only time will tell how that aspect turns out, but right now we know, that they really didn’t hurt themselves.

The Magic obviously improve right now. But do they really win? No because both teams achieve what they were looking for. The Magic add another piece to their championship puzzle, for basically nothing. Now they just need to hope the Turkish Michael Jordan returns.

Warriors Trade: Jamal Crawford
Hawks Trade: Speedy Claxton, Acie Law

This trade isn’t that exciting to me. The Warriors get rid of Crawford, basically because none of Warrior nation was impressed with him, Nelson didn’t like him, and they wanted Stephen Curry. Speedy Claxton is the contract to help facilitate the deal, and Acie Law is/was a shooter and the Warriors

are probably hoping that maybe Nelson can work his magic with yet again another guy who hasn’t had his name on the radar, and at least turn him into a guy who can shoot the three when put into the game. Nelson loves to switch things around, so who knows, maybe Law will actually see some time out in The Bay.

The trade doesn’t really help nor hinder the Warriors in any way. Jamal didn’t make that big of an impact on the Warriors. He put points on the board, but just about anyone can in that system. The Hawks however could gain immensely from this. I don’t know where he’ll fit, possibly as a sixth man PG/SG combo?

It really helps the Hawks score, and they have a pretty good defensive unit(not that Crawford will add to that), it will be fun to see how the trade works out for the Hawks. I like the Hawks, and hopefully this subtle move can help them out.

This Article is also featured on: The L.A. Minute Blog - Breaking Down The Off-Season Pt. 1