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NBA Rumor Mill – Why LeBron Can’t Turn to Shaq

6-18-09

The NBA is frequently the most overhyped league when it comes to rumors. Lord knows I’ve had my say in generating rumors, such as when I suggested a Bosh-Amare trade back at the deadline. But I also have the best interests for team’s in mind. Why on Earth would the Suns, who are on the verge of losing Steve Nash to Father Time, take on a guy like Ben Wallace in a trade for Shaq?

“The Big Cactus” is also the “The Big Spotlight Hog”. Shaq would love nothing more than to give another superstar a championship ring, proving just how important he is to the NBA gambling universe. Listen, I love Shaq but his ego is as big as he is. Shaq is 37 years-old, and still managed to put back 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last year with the Suns. He is certainly effective, but he certainly isn’t the answer in Cleveland.

I said it at the trade deadline, and I will reiterate it once again (because it feels so good to be right!). Wally Szczerbiak averaged 12.9 minutes and managed 3.6 points per game in the playoffs. With Wally’s expiring contract netting him an absurd$13.8 million, hat’s roughly $4 million a point and $1 million a minute for this guy in the post season. He was the best guy to move at the deadline, but Cleveland got nervous because they preferred to move Ben Wallace.

The Suns didn’t want Wallace, one of the game’s scariest defenders when he was a Detroit Piston. And here’s why: 1.1 ppg in the playoffs and 12.6 minutes per game. That’s $14 million you’re paying for one freaking point! Was Szczerbiak the difference maker in Cleveland? Absolutely not. Would Shaq have been way better in the playoffs? Yes! I can’t type louder than this. YES!

But Cleveland balked at trading Wally, reserving to keep him and then they were chased out of the Eastern Conference Championships by the Orlando Magic. At mid-season, with everything going right for Cleveland, adding Shaq would’ve been the right move. Now? It’s definitely not.

The deadline is for gutsy, ball breaking moves. It’s for the GM’s, such as Colangelo in Toronto, to try and swing for the fences and make a trade that can bolster your playoff run, or help you manage an inflated salary cap. Cleveland got weak in the knees because Wally was too precious to their bench, and lost the chance to get Shaq at a premium, unload a mega contract on the books and make a real run at the NBA Championship.

Their biggest mistake was thinking LeBron could do it on his own. “Oh, we got him Mo Williams!” And Williams has done what exactly? Guys in the NBA can score in boat loads. Look at Vince Carter. Give me Tracy McGrady. But the NBA is full of premier athletes now and you need closers, not scorers. Shaq is a closer, and anyone from Portland will tell you just that. But now LeBron needs more serious help.

Shaq will turn 38 this year. There’s no future there. If Cleveland wants LeBron to stay in 2010, then they need to find him a big man that can stay in Cleveland for the next 5-10 years. Why is Shaq the big target out there? Why not Al Jefferson or the aforementioned Bosh? Why are the Cavs not going after a young big man, and instead stocking up on older big men?

On top of that, the championship that LeBron brings to Cleveland will also belong to Shaq and he will never be able to take full credit for it. Not because Shaq is an ego maniac, but that’s how the public perceives it. How fast can you see Shaq and LeBron winning an NBA Championship in 2010, LeBron leaving, and Shaq staying in Cleveland to say “I’m going to do it again in Cleveland”. Then Shaq becomes Cleveland’s new hero and LeBron becomes a villain. Could LeBron take that gamble and lose his home town in the process?

LeBron has one year to bring his championship home to Cleveland and the brass need to give him the weapon down low to do so. After the summer of 2010, it’s anyone’s guess on whether or not LeBron will stay or go. But if Cleveland finds him a reason to stay (Al Jefferson, Chris Bosh, Amare…anybody!) then the summer of 2010 is going to be nothing more than a weightless mist of smoke and hype…just like the NBA rumor mill.

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