The web has been buzzing all weekend with rumors of Shaquille O’Neal being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. This deal was first proposed before the All-Star break but never happened for one reason or another. The Cavs would get Shaq and in return, the Suns would receive Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic. Sounds good if you’re Danny Ferry or a Cavs fan, right? I agree, if you’re thinking short term, but let’s dig a little deeper on this one.
Let’s assume that this trade is completed and Shaq joins Lebron and the rest of the Cavs. There can only be two outcomes from this. 1) The Cavs win the 2010 NBA Championship or 2) The Cavs don’t win the 2010 NBA Championship. Let’s tackle the ramifications of #1 first.
It’s June 2010 and the Cavs have been crowned NBA champions. Now what? Shaq is a year older and Lebron is about to decide if he wants to re-sign or sign elsewhere. Well, when he takes a look at what he has to work with for the future, he can’t/won’t be happy. Because the Cavs traded for O’Neal, the rest of the team pretty much stayed the same. So once O’Neal calls it quits, Lebron will be stuck with basically the same team he lost with in 2009 year. Now maybe, just maybe Shaq has enough in the tank for the Cavs to maybe string together a couple of championships, but is it worth it? Especially if you could have found a way to land a player like Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh, or Carlos Boozer to play with Lebron for years to come. Maybe you can’t get one of these players, but signing Shaq completely takes away that chance. So even if Lebron did stay (which I think he wouldn’t), it would be pretty hard for him to win titles in the future.
Now, on to scenario #2. It’s June 2010 and the Cavs have once again fell short in their quest for a NBA championship. Now what? Well, it’s almost guaranteed that Lebron will sign elsewhere and Shaq would most likely be moved to a title contender (if he doesn’t just retire). The Cavs would be back to rebuilding.
In this scenario, it’s pretty obvious why Lebron would sign elsewhere. Even with a semi-dominant presence in the middle, Lebron is still empty handed. And the window with the presence in the middle is closing fast (if it hasn’t already closed). So it completely makes sense for him to move on to a team with the cap room that can pair him up with another young superstar.
So to me, this deal is a no win situation. Sure, it could lead to maybe one or two titles, but is it worth destroying the chance at building a dynasty? Danny Ferry should not make this deal, PERIOD. I know it’s tempting because Ferry and the city of Cleveland are desperately trying to make Lebron happy, but this would hurt their chances more than they could ever know.