The Cavaliers will forever sit and look at the expiring numbers on Wally Szczerbiak’s contract as a missed opportunity. Citing chemistry and a lack of availability of desirable players, the Cavaliers let the trade deadline slip away. One of the most talked about expiring contract in the history of the game and nothing seemed to materialize. After the Mo Williams deal it was a bit easier to swallow because right now we trust Danny Ferry. Even though he wasn’t unable to unload Wally at the deadline, there was an underlying trust that if he had been able to get anything done he certainly would have. And then the Shaq rumors surfaced again yesterday.
The Shaq deal was the last ditch effort to do anything. Ultimately the Cavaliers didn’t pull the trigger and while some Cavs fans were disappointed, I think there was a sense that no matter what the trade was something of a 50/50 proposition. An aged Shaquille O’Neal was probably a better piece to the puzzle than some of the other players on the Cavs’ roster, but that was no guarantee of the results.
Now that the results on the season are in and the Lakers defeated the Magic for the title, of course it is going to look like a missed opportunity. But given the fact that nobody that I know of has a customized DeLorean, I am not sure why rumors of Shaq to Cleveland would resurface on June 14th. The idea of trading for Shaq would have been to have the big man around for this year’s playoff run and then have his $20 million contract to make a decision about whether to keep him in the final year of his deal or trade that $20 million expiring deal. To acquire O’Neal now would seem like a determination to have him play out the year and let his deal expire as he sits in free agency quickly approaching 40 years of age.
And that is where none of this talk makes much sense to me. The Cavaliers have Wally Szczerbiak part II in Ben Wallace’s contract. It should be one of the most attractive expiring deals as it will let a team clear almost $15 million off their cap in one fell swoop in these tough economic times. And this is why I am glad the Cavs came out and said the talks were only preliminary. Acquiring Shaquille O’Neal might end up being the best possible move with Ben Wallace’s expiring contract, but it is way too early to tell for sure. You never know what kinds of players will become available as they become unhappy with their current teams. If the Cavs aren’t at least a bit patient this off-season they will be doing themselves a disservice. You never know when someone like Chris Bosh is going to become trade bait.