The Cavs just took their chips and pushed them all in. After a week of rumors, it finally became official late Wednesday evening as the Diesel will now join the King in Cleveland. The Suns dealt Shaquille O'Neal to the Cavs in exchange for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic and the 46th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
Why this makes sense for Cleveland:
Despite being on the down side of his career, Shaq is still Shaq. At times, he can dominate in the post like he did earlier in his career, pushing people around down low. More importantly, he adds that intimidating factor on defense that Cleveland lacked. If he can stay healthy during the postseason, Shaq will be another complement to LeBron who now has the big man he has lacked during his career. Imagine a Cavs-Lakers NBA Finals next year. Kobe vs. LeBron. Shaq vs. Kobe. The NBA has to be drooling at this possibility.
Cleveland came away major winners in this trade, ultimately giving up seven cents on the dollar as Wallace was becoming more and more worthless; Pavlovic was not a major part of the rotation; and a second-round pick is... well, a second-round pick. The Cavs also showed LeBron that they are serious about doing whatever it takes to win a title which may help keep the King in Cleveland after next season.
Why this makes sense for Phoenix:
This was a pure "salary dump" for the Suns who will likely save $4.5 million next season and possibly $10 million in the luxury tax. If Wallace retires, as has been rumored since the Cavs were eliminated from the postseason, Phoenix could shave even more money off their cap. This could also lead to a major overhaul of the Suns' roster in the next year as both Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire are in the final years of their contracts.
How this affects the 2009 NBA Draft:
Cleveland pretty much has to draft a wing player with their first round pick, No. 30 overall. With Pavlovic out of the picture and Wally Szczerbiak an unrestricted free agent, the depth behind LeBron takes a major hit. There should be some qualified candidates like Chase Budinger, Sam Young, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Brown or even Jodie Meeks who can come in right away and play 12-18 minutes a night.
Phoenix now has four overall picks in the draft (Nos. 14, 46, 48, 57.) At No. 14, the Suns must now consider a big man like B.J. Mullens to help replace Shaq. More than likely, a point guard or forward prospect will still be the direction Phoenix heads. If they are truly in a re-building mode, they need to draft wisely and hopefully find a contributor or two with their second-round picks. They could also try to package a few of their picks to move up in the draft.
I also think free safety is the big need, not necessarily strong safety. We can live another year with Devon Kindred and Ibraheim Campbell at strong safety. Maybe if we didn't have so many other more pressing needs I wouldn't mind addressing SS, but there are other priorities on this team.