Sources: Shaq-to-Cavs talks ongoing
Talk between the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers of a trade that would have Shaquille O'Neal playing with LeBron James next season has not gone beyond the preliminary stages and no deal is imminent, two executives with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard.
The clubs have not spoken within the past few days, but sources say talks of a possible trade involving O'Neal, Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic never completely died after it was first discussed in February.
It's no secret that Shaq moving to the Cavs would be a definite upgrade at the center position. The only question is if the Shaq Cleveland hopes to acquire will be the one who played in 75 games this season (his most since 1999-2000), or the Shaq who only averaged 63.5 contests, including a 40-game season three years ago, in his previous eight campaigns.
O'Neal, 37, will make $20 million next season in the final year of his current deal, while Wallace will make $14 million in the last year of his contract and Pavlovic $4.9 million with only $1.5 million guaranteed.
The salary swap is close enough to make the trade work under the salary-cap guidelines, and the Suns would save $10 million in the transaction -- $4.5 million in salary and $5.5 million in luxury-tax payments.
They could save even more money if Wallace takes a buyout, a possibility that was raised when Wallace said he was considering retirement after the Cavs' Eastern Conference finals loss to the Orlando Magic.
If the Suns acquired him and bought out his contract for less than face value, they could lower their actual expenditures, although the full amount would still count toward their luxury-tax total.
Cavs GM Danny Ferry and Suns president Steve Kerr, former teammates in San Antonio, are good friends who speak often, and a possible Shaq trade has always remained on the back burner.
Cleveland aggressively pursued O'Neal in February, offering Wallace and Pavlovic. Phoenix was not interested in Wallace because his contract was not expiring and instead wanted Wally Szczerbiak.
Now convinced that they are no longer contenders, the Suns fully intend to move one of their big contracts. With Stoudemire being a young building block and Nash a local icon, O'Neal, whose salary is the largest on the team, makes the most sense.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard and ESPN.com's J.A. Adande was used in this report.