NBA Free Agency: Shaquille O'Neal Available, Atlanta Hawks Need To Act

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent IJuly 10, 2010

CLEVELAND - MAY 11: Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers tries to get around the defense of Kendrick Perkins #43 of the  Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 11, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s official. The NBA has their new “Big 3” and the balance of power in the Eastern Conference has been tipped drastically in the favor of the Miami Heat.

Miami still has a long way to go before we truly will know just how good their team will be.

You can have all the computer projections and Vegas Odds that you want saying the Heat are a deadlock to win the NBA Championship next year, but you still have to play with more than three guys.

Although I would be interested in seeing how many wins the Heat could get with just those three. I would be willing to bet that they could challenge the New Jersey Nets’ 12 wins this past season.

But enough about Miami and enough already about LeBron James.

The Atlanta Hawks, a team that won 53 games this past season, haven’t done much this offseason except make Joe Johnson the richest free agent of 2010. However, their core is still intact and with a new head coach ready to take over guiding the ship, things are still looking up in Atlanta.

Atlanta has it scorers, athleticism, speed, and defense. They are only missing one thing—a big man.

The “Diesel,” “Man of Steel,” “Kazaam,” however you like to think of Shaquille O’Neal, is still looking for a home.

O’Neal’s top destinations of the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks are no longer in the mix, with both teams adding the necessary big men.

The Celtics picked up former Miami Heat player Jermaine O’Neal, and the Mavericks were able to re-sign last year’s acquisition, Brendan Haywood.

Besides Atlanta, the only other logical place where Shaq could go is a return to the Heat and be apart of the new trio down in Miami. But, if O’Neal did go for a round two with the Heat, it would be for the mid-level exception.

If O’Neal came to Atlanta, then he could receive a few more dollars and be apart of team that, with him, could challenge and burst the Heat’s championship bubble.

The addition of O’Neal to the Hawks’ lineup would give the team a legitimate true big man—something that Atlanta fans haven’t seen the glory days of Dikembe Mutombo.

Luckily for the Hawks, we don’t need any glory days from Shaq. We just need the 38 year olds' solid 20 to 30 minutes a night come playoff time. The rest of time he could serve as a veteran voice to Atlanta’s young core; something that has also been absent from the Atlanta roster the past few years.

So, come on Shaq. Don’t take the high road and play fourth fiddle to James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.

Atlanta fans will give you all of the love you need and then some.