By Chris Broussard – ESPN The Magazine
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns have come to an agreement
on a blockbuster trade that sends Shaquille O’Neal to Cleveland to team
with LeBron James, according to sources.
The deal has been agreed to in principle and is expected to be finalized Thursday, according to sources.
Cleveland will send Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix for the
future Hall of Famer. Sources said the Suns will also receive the 46th
pick in Thursday’s NBA draft and $500,000.
The trade gives the Cavs a player they’ve coveted since February. With
center Zydrunas Ilgauskas starting to break down, adding Shaq to the
roster gives them a dominant force in the middle. The Cavs were
obviously unhappy with their ability to defend Dwight Howard in the
playoffs and bringing Shaq into the fold should help. O’Neal averaged
17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last season and made his 15th
The Cavaliers were also in talks with New Orleans about obtaining Tyson
Chandler. If they had not made the trade for O’Neal, they would have
traded for Chandler, according to a source.
The Cavs felt O’Neal was the better option because he has just one year
left on his contract, and will not eat up cap space that will enable
them to pursue free agents such as Chris Bosh in next summer’s
star-studded free agent class. Chandler, who had injury problems last
postseason, has a player option for $12.7 million in 2010-2011 that he
is likely to pick up.