Miami Heat's Jermaine O'Neal could be dealt for Amare Stoudemire

MICHAEL WALLACE

The last time center Jermaine O’Neal was traded, he was involved in
just about every step of the negotiation process in his move last
February from the Raptors to the Miami Heat.

If the Heat has any plans to move O’Neal and his $23 million expiring
contract before next month’s trade deadline, the 14-year veteran
apparently is not aware of them.

O’Neal could be a major cog involved in a potential deal if the Heat is serious about acquiring Amare Stoudemire from Phoenix.

The Heat has been mentioned among a half-dozen teams that might pursue a trade for Stoudemire if the Suns make him available. Stoudemire has a $17 million contract option for the 2010-11 season, but could opt out after this season to join free-agent class highlighted by Cleveland’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

League and team sources confirmed Wednesday the Heat is in its “due diligence” process, something team president Pat Riley does when a big-name player surfaces who could help Miami.

Despite concerns at times over his role, O’Neal is not believed to have publicly or privately asked to be traded, and would like to make it work in Miami. The Heat seemed committed to O’Neal for the season and had not ruled out trying to resign him.

Riley’s plan has been to maintain enough salary-cap space this summer to re-sign Wade, add another maximum-level player and also convince a third star free agent to take less money on what would be a title contender.

If Miami is reluctant to package second-year forward Michael Beasley in a potential offer for Stoudemire, then O’Neal and a first-round pick might entice Phoenix.

Such a package could be constructed under salary-matching guidelines that would allow the Heat to swap O’Neal for Stoudemire and still get beneath the league’s $71.2 million luxury-tax threshold.

Riley has said Miami is about $2.5 million over the tax and is intent on getting under it.

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/basketball/story/1450113.html

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