NBA Free Agency 2010: Top Five Destinations for Shaquille O’Neal
Free Agency has finally arrived. You have your eyes on the big guys, like LeBron. But don’t forget about the biggest guy of all, the Big Diesel.
Shaq is running on his last leg, but he could still provide a solid piece for a team in need of a big man to get over the hump.
He is probably not going to resign with the Cavaliers, who have tunnel vision on resigning LeBron, and for good reason.
So, let’s take a look at Shaq’s situation.
What Shaq Brings to the Table
Height : 7’1”
Weight : 325
Years in NBA
Age : 38
2009-10 Stats : 53 games, 23 mpg, 12 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg, 1.5 apg, 49.6% FG
Shaq is obviously on his last leg. But you can’t teach size, and Shaq’s got more of that than anybody the NBA has ever seen.
He obviously isn’t an MVP candidate anymore, but he could still play a valuable role on a championship contender. Someone in need of a bruiser should definitely look Shaq’s way, and they might be able to bring him in on the cheap.
He also has a championship pedigree that all contenders desire to bring into their locker rooms.
So who might these teams be?
5. Boston Celtics
The Celtics are a team that has put together veteran pieces to stay in the title hunt for the last few seasons.
With the retirement of Rasheed Wallace, Shaq could step in and fill a big hole off the bench for the C’s.
The Celtics will be more concerned with re-signing Paul Pierce and possibly Ray Allen.
The only thing that makes me think this won’t happen is that the Celtics may try to infuse some youth into their roster to extend their championship window.
4. Houston Rockets
Yao Ming has decided to stay with the Rockets, but Houston could still lose Luis Scola in free agency.
The Rockets are considered to have serious interest in Chris Bosh, but I don’t know if they have the money to lure him. They also do not have Dwyane Wade or LeBron James, and Bosh may decide to team up with one or both of them.
That doesn’t mean the Rockets can’t pull it off. I just don’t think they will.
So what about Shaq? He always discussed his respect for Yao, so why not team up with him? It would be an interesting dynamic with the skilled Yao and the bruising Shaq on the court together.
But they may not have the money to go after Shaq, especially if they re-sign Scola or find a true power forward as his replacement. But it is an interesting possibility.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
I don’t know if Shaq would ever go to a city like Milwaukee. All the other cities on this list seem to fit Shaq’s personality more, and I don’t know if it’s the place he would like to potentially end his career.
But he could provide an interesting dynamic to the Bucks.
The Bucks just picked up Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts, so they have some extra offense. Now they are rumored to want a defensive and rebounding big man to complement Andrew Bogut.
Seems like a role Shaq could fill at this juncture in his career. He could also help the Bucks make a decent showing in the playoffs with all their newfound pieces. It may be enticing enough to convince the Big Diesel to land in Milwaukee.
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks’ primary concern is re-signing Joe Johnson, or finding a replacement.
Even then, they would still need someone to get through the big boys in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta’s nemesis has been Orlando, as the Hawks have been unable to stop Dwight Howard for the past few years.
Shaq is slowing down, but he could still provide a big body to slow down the new Superman. It was, after all, the same reason Cleveland signed him last season.
We don’t know if that strategy was a good one because Cleveland fell to Boston before getting the chance to avenge its loss to Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. But the Hawks might deem it a worthy risk to try to get over the Magic hump.
1. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks’ top goal is to re-sign Dirk Nowitzki. Their next step is to try to dump Erick Dampier’s contract. Brendan Haywood is also a free agent, and the Mavericks may not decide to dole out the cash to keep his services.
Shaq could provide a cheaper, experienced replacement if they are capable of dealing Dampier and let Haywood go.
Shaq has stated his respect for Dirk and the Mavs, particularly during the Heat’s championship run, when they took down Dallas in six.
Shaq took Miami to its first title, and he would foam at the mouth for an opportunity to do the same in Dallas. It would give him the same number of rings as Kobe but with three different teams.
His personality also seems like a good fit with Mark Cuban. This seems like the best destination for Shaq to land, but you never know with the Big Diesel.