Cavaliers acquire Shaquille O’Neal from the Suns

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio- With time ticking away on LeBron James’ continued tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, General Manager Danny Ferry said that the organization was no longer willing to wait in its quest for a championship.

Ferry, an executive who has been far from timid when it comes to making moves to improve the Cavs, made another bold move in the wee hours of Thursday morning by completing a deal that brought Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal to the Cavaliers in exchange for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round draft choice in 2010 and cash.

“Obviously LeBron’s future is important to our organization, but this move and our goals are in line with what I think our players want, which is to win a championship and win it this year. We don’t want to be patient,” Ferry said during an afternoon news conference.

To pretend that the move wasn’t directly related to the team’s performance against the Orlando Magic in the playoffs would be a fantasy. O’Neal’s acquisition is a stop-gap measure to deal with Magic center Dwight Howard, the imposing big man who wreaked havoc against the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals by averaging 25.8 points, 13 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

After four seasons in which he played no more than 59 games and seemed to be on the decline, O’Neal had a resurgence with the Suns last season. He appeared in 75 games, averaged 17.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 30 minutes per game. That is the player that Ferry said will come to Cleveland to help the Cavs in their quest.

“He is a force. He always has been. Still is. On the defensive end, just around the basket, he’s a wall. Offensively he’s a force in that he’s going to get double teams,” Ferry said. “He’s a good passer. He’s a great receiver _ meaning that if you get in trouble, you can throw the ball up to him and he’ll create the space to get the ball and either pass or finish.”

O’Neal enjoyed a renaissance last season, but not all was rosy during his tenure with the Suns, playing in their up tempo offense. Ferry expects that he will fit in better with the Cavs.

“We’re more of a half-court team. We play more of a tempo that fits Shaq’s game,” he said. “From that standpoint, it’s a guy we can throw the ball down in the hole, create double teams. I do think he can have a really big impact in making the group better.”

O’Neal’s presence will have an impact on veteran center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ferry said he expects there to be adjustments, but ultimately things will work out.

“I think it’s conceivable that Z will come off the bench, but those are coach Mike Brown’s decisions,” he said. “I do strongly believe that Z is going to be an important part of the team. At times I think you’re going to see that they play together a little bit, possibly.”

Ferry said that James and several other Cavs reacted positively when told of the deal. He doesn’t expect there to be any clash of egos between James and O’Neal.

“I think they both badly want to win first of all. I think our team and our organization want to win,” he said. “I think with that leading it, everything is going to work itself out.”

George M. Thomas | Akron Beacon Journal

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