The Phoenix Suns want to dump Shaq. Or, more accurately, they want to rid themselves Shaq’s super-sized contract (worth $20 million in 2009-10). Times are tough, and, like many teams, they’d like to save a little money. Initially, the predominant rumor was Shaq to Cleveland. In return, Phoenix would receive the corpse of Ben Wallace, pine jockey Sasha Pavlovic and $10 million in salary and luxury tax savings. Then the Suns announced they wanted actual player value in return for The Big Tweeter, and new potential suitors emerged: The Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks.
Oh, and the Chicago Bulls.
According to Bob Young of the Arizona Republic: “There also were rumors that O’Neal might be headed to Chicago in exchange for Luol Deng, Tim Thomas and at least one other player. The Bulls would want O’Neal so they could dump his contract at the end of next season and create cap space in 2010 to go after Dwyane Wade or some other member of that epic free-agent class. It seems unlikely, but Deng would appear to fit into the Suns style. And we can’t dismiss anything from Chicago, considering the relationships that Suns General Manager Steve Kerr has with Bulls General Manager John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro.”
Well, uh, wow. Like Young, I think this scenario seems pretty unlikely. League sources indicate that Shaq might be looking for a two-year contract extension in concert with any trade. That’s not going to happen in Chicago. (And if it did, I would celebrate by walking in front of a moving bus.) Still…the trade would be interesting. It would get Luol’s contract — which runs through 2014 and would cost the Bulls more than $60 million — off the books. Chicago would address their one glaring need — a big man who can score inside. Joakim Noah could move over to power forward (a better position for him). And O’Neal’s giant contract would expire in time for The Summer of LeBron’s Free Agency. Not that we’d get LeBron, mind you, but Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and various other players would be available.
Once concern I’d have would be the “and at least one other player” part. The Bulls really can’t afford to do a three-for-one swap, assuming all three are regular rotation players. Maybe the Suns would be willing to take a draft pick in return (preferably the 26th pick)? Jerome James maybe? (Ha!) It’s all speculation at this point. Stay tuned.