Posted by Royce Young
Free agency has very nearly come and gone. The big names have signed and the ones remaining are either role players or big names that some might consider only that - names. Players like Shaquille O'Neal, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com has updates on all three , but looked intently at Shaq's current situation.
Stein says Dallas is "definitely out" and that Atlanta stands as the only team with a confirmed “live” interest in Shaq. But the big guy, Stein says, still wants assurances of a healthy amount of playing time as well as a salary that starts above the $5.8 million mid-level exception, which can be achieved through a sign-and-trade with Cleveland. But again, Stein reiterates what we already know: No team out there, including Atlanta, is known to be willing to pay Shaq more than $2 million for next season. And why should anyone?
Stein also said Shaq, McGrady and Iverson have all expressed interest in joining the Heat, but it's unlikely any of them will land in Miami. In assembling a supporting cast for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on a severely limited budget, the Heat made it clear that it doesn’t want to add anyone -- no matter how much money that player is ready to sacrifice -- who could potentially alter chemistry or divert focus away from the SuperFriends. As Stein says, Shaq was never a consideration after his critical comments of Miami’s training staff upon arrival in Phoenix and his history of ripping Bosh.
Currently, Shaq's best option appears to still be Atlanta but O'Neal will have to check both his ego and his checkbook at the door. The Spurs still reportedly have some interest, but that's surely on the condition Shaq takes the veteran minimum. Right now, it appears options for Shaq are pretty limited.
Now Shaq was productive in Cleveland last year. He averaged 12 ppg and 6.7 rpg, and fleshed out to per 36 minutes, he put up close to 18 and 10 and had a quality PER of almost 18. But again, he's 38, will only play about 20-25 minutes a game, isn't a guarantee for all 82 and wants too much money. Who's in? Don't all you teams put your hands up at once.