The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled the trigger yesterday on a trade that vaults them right back atop the Eastern Conference. The Cavs bring in Shaquille O'Neal from Phoenix and ship out the corpse of Ben Wallace and a man named Sasha, as well as the 46th pick in the draft and a bundle of cash. Wow. Just one day after the Spurs make a mega deal to land Richard Jefferson and stake their claim for next year's NBA title, the Cavs fire back by bringing in the Diesel.
The Cavs really needed to do something about their front court. Big Z is a pansy and you can't expect much more out of him than some jump shots. Varejoa is an aggressive defender, but he is hapless on the offensive end and doesn't possess enough control on the defensive end to be consistently effective. You had to see this move coming. After Dwight Howard owned Cleveland in the playoffs you knew Danny Ferry was going to have to make a move to get a big man, a move he should have made five months ago. Now the Cavs can feel confident in their match ups down low when they go up against the likes of Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard, even if Shaq is on his last leg.
There was also a report that the Cavs would have gone after Tyson Chandler had they not been able to agree on a deal for Shaq. Honestly, I think Chandler would have been a better move. Chandler is one of the most athletic big men in the Association right now. He is going to make 60% of his shots, mostly dunks, and he is going to grab you nine boards per game. He only averages one block per game, but that doesn't tell the whole story. He is a disruptive player on the defensive end who really gets after it in the middle. And unlike Shaq, he can play an entire game if needed. I hate, HATE, Anderson Varejoa, but having him and Chandler side by side would be an imposing frontline. The only problem with bringing in Chandler is that he would be their for two years. He has a an 2010-11 player option for $12.4 mil, which means it would hamper the Cavs ability to make a big splash in what is going to be the craziest free agency period ever.
The real issue, in my mind, is whether or not Shaq and Lebron can coexist for an entire season. I believe they can, but each of them are going to have to tone down their personalities a bit. Lebron is the clear leader of that team. He coaches them up. He motivates them. And he isn't afraid to get after his teammates if they aren't carrying their load. That shit doesn't fly with Shaq. Shaq has never been on a team where he wasn't the leader, even in Phoenix. I find it hard to believe there was anybody in that locker room that could have reigned Shaq in. Shaq is used to being Batman, while a young guard plays his Robin in their quest for a title. Not anymore, this is Lebron's team. Lebron just needs to know how to handle the Diesel. The fact is Shaq is going to take some plays off. Hell, he will take some entire games off and the Cavs will lose some games because of it. That's just something you have to accept with Shaq and hope that he can bring it throughout the playoffs. But that's okay Cavs fans, that's exactly what you got him for.
ASALAMALAKUM, ONE LOVE