Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Shaquille O'Neal Is Going To Bring Some Heat To The Phoenix Suns

In one of the most improbable trades in NBA history, the Miami Heat traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, sources close to the situation told

Who would have thought that trading Shaquille O'Neal would have been so simple? The Miami Heat, other than the obvious fact that they are a very bad team, have terrible team chemistry issues. Pat Riley and Shaq were not getting along. Likewise, Shawn Marion wasn't mixing well with his team either.

The Suns have been plagued by well-chronicled concerns about their chemistry for nearly two years, generally focusing on the occasional dissatisfaction voiced behind the scenes by either Marion or Stoudemire. In the locker room as well as the front office, sources told Stein, there are factions that have believed for some time that one of them would eventually have to be traded for the Suns to reach their full potential.

Marion asked to be traded before the season but has rarely mentioned that declaration since, with many Suns insiders believing that he went public with that request mostly as a protest response to being mentioned in trade rumors for years.

O'Neal turns 36 in March and has been plagued by a persistent hip problem that has cost him 14 games this season. He refused to speak with Miami reporters after Tuesday's practice, while Riley insisted that O'Neal would soon undergo an MRI after missing the Heat's past six games.

And when he has been healthy, O'Neal is averaging a career-worst 14.2 points and 7.8 rebounds, while the Heat's demise has deepened after they followed their historic comeback from 2-0 down against Dallas in the 2006 NBA Finals by absorbing a first-round sweep by Chicago last season.

Marion, a four-time All-Star, is averaging 15.6 points and 9.8 rebounds this season, while Banks is putting up 5.2 points and 1.0 assist per game.

Obviously, Marion and Wade will fit will together. But, what can Shaq offer the Suns? Though this seems on the surface to be a terrible trade, the Suns are hoping to get out of Shaq at least 20 minutes of offensive and defensive pressure in the paint that wasn't there when Marion was playing for them. Now, they have a huge center that can compete with Tim Duncan and the Spurs or Andrew Bynum on the Lakers. They can still run up and down the court with their fast paced offense, but when all else fails, just throw the ball to the big man under the rim.

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