With the Cavaliers looking to improve the current roster and being armed with little in terms of leverage against their peers, Shaquille O’Neal continues to have his name floated about the rumor mill as he appears destined to play anywhere outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer has mentioned Shaq in rumored scenarios for most of the last seven days; the 38-year-old center appears set to play for his fourth team in as many years. Potential suitors for the big man have included the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and New York Knicks. O’Neal’s camp has hinted towards the Hawks and Spurs, but as of Wednesday evening, the Hawks and Knicks appear to be the only teams interested in adding the veteran center to their roster.
O’Neal is said to be looking for at least a two-year contract that would pay him more than the mid-level exception. Possessing his bird rights, the Cavaliers can in fact work a deal that would get O’Neal what he wants, but it would only be in the event that they could then move him to a team that would be willing to actually be responsible for paying his new salary.
The Hawks are now looking for value-type plays after signing Joe Johnson to a maximum contract earlier this month. Long been looking for a center, the Hawks could add O’Neal and move Al Horford to a permanent role at the power forward position. But with O’Neal’s contract demands, the team has also entertained the idea of signing a player along the lines of Brad Miller, Kwame Brown or Kurt Thomas.
The Knicks, though owners of plenty of leftover money, seem like an ill fit for O’Neal, but this should not thwart the Cavaliers’ attempt to move him there. Comprised of mostly newly acquired players (Amar’e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf to name a few), it remains unclear what the Knicks could trade back to the Cavaliers in such a transaction. A current player of interest could be guard Toney Douglas who averaged 12.5 points, 3.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.9 three-pointers in less than 30 minutes per game over the final two months of the 2009-10 season. Unfortunately, many feel that Douglas is slated to be the point guard of the future in New York and may be unavailable.
A source reported by The New York Post’s Marc Berman stated that he “didn’t think it would work on all kinds of levels.”
With specific regard to Atlanta, the Cavaliers continue to be linked to 24-year-old forward Marvin Williams. Though many are turned off by Williams’ regression last season, there are thoughts that if given the opportunity to be an integral part of an offense, Williams could prove that he was in fact worth being the second overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft. The former North Carolina Tar Heel averaged 14 points and six rebounds per game during the 2008-09 season, but saw his minutes decrease during what was Atlanta’s most successful season in quite some time. Unfortunatley for Williams, a move to Cleveland would also provide undue pressure to fill in the shoes of the recenty-departed LeBron James.
(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)