Ball reportedly in Heat's court

Updated: July 10, 2004, 4:15 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Is Shaq-to-Miami closer than we think?

Sources told ESPN's Jim Gray on Friday night that if the Heat agree to trade Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and either Caron Butler or a No. 1 draft pick, then the Lakers will trade them Shaquille O'Neal. The deal's in Miami's hands now, the sources said.

In Thursday's editions, the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reported that the Lakers, intent on trading the disgruntled center, might make such a deal with the Heat.

Insider's Chad Ford wonders why the Heat would be willing to short-circuit a solid rebuilding project for a short-term run with Shaq. He also wonders why the Lakers would be willing to become the West coast version of the Heat.
  • Ford: Is Shaq worth it?
  • The Lakers have been considering a handful of the 17 or 18 offers they have received for the three-time NBA Finals MVP, the paper reported.

    "Just like the coach deal with Phil [Jackson] being let go, Dr. Buss thinks it's time to deal Shaq," a team source told the paper.

    Heat president Pat Riley, who recently was considered for the Lakers' head coaching job, confirmed talking to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak about O'Neal.

    "I mean, Tracy McGrady got traded, he was on the market," Riley told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Friday. "I've heard three or four other great-name players that are on the market, Shaq being one of 'em. You've got to pursue 'em. You're foolish if you don't try to pursue 'em and at least listen. Nothing's happened. Everything right now is so premature."

    The New York Post reported Saturday that it "has learned" that O'Neal's representatives would be meeting later in the day with Riley. According to the Post, the deal hinges on Miami's being able to satisfy Shaq's desire for a three-year extension at money comparable to the $30 million he's due for 2005-06.

    Meanwhile, on another front, free agent Kobe Bryant met with four teams, including the Lakers and the Clippers.

    New Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich tried to contact O'Neal, the Press-Enterprise reported, and Shaq left a message in response.

    "I just feel terrible for Rudy because I wanted to play for him," O'Neal said, according to the Press-Enterprise. "But I ain't coming back there."

    Sources told the Press-Enterprise that O'Neal's representatives have shot down potential deals. The Kings, one of the teams O'Neal is willing to play for, reportedly had backed away from talks.