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Shaq, Vince, and the Bulls
by Sam Smith
Posted on Jun 25
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I’m getting the feeling the Bulls didn’t get hurt before the NBA draft started Thursday.
Shaq to the Cavs?
Vince Carter to the Magic?
Sometimes you overreact.
The Cavs and Magic had terrific seasons. But you tend to react—or overreact—to your last loss. I think the Cavs may have overreacted. My guess is the Magic would not have gone for Carter unless they felt they couldn’t—or didn’t want to—bring back Hedo Turkoglu.
I think both the Cavs and Magic take a step back next season with their gambles. Yes, I know, Shaq is going into the final season of his contract and likely wants an extension. The assumption then is you’ll see the best of Shaq. So, what? That means he’ll learn to play the pick and roll? So now the Cavs are going to play post up offense with LeBron? And close up the middle for LeBron? And make him a post feeder?
Look, I know LeBron wanted Shaq.
Kobe wanted Jason Kidd.
Michael wanted Walter Davis.
I know Cavs management doesn’t order lunch without checking with LeBron first. But I’m not sure how this is supposed to work. With Zydrunas Ilgauskas relegated to a backup now and Anderson Varajeo probably leaving as a free agent, you’ve got LeBron, Shaq, Mo Williams and Delonte West. So what’s that? That doesn’t look like a 66-win team, and doesn’t look like a team the Bulls cannot compete with. There's been talk about adding Rasheed Wallace, now that would be something to see, but maybe not if you're a Cavs believer.
On to the Magic.
This has to mean they cannot sign Turkoglu. I suppose they can try to sign him, but I don’t see how those finances work with Carter having two seasons left at an average of almost $17 million a year and a third season with a partial guarantee. It’s a huge salary relief for the Nets.
Now, the Magic for next season has Rashard Lewis at $18 million, Dwight Howard at $15.2 million, Jameer Nelson at $7.7 million and Carter at $16.1 million. It seems inconceivable to have Turkoglu, who is expected to opt out of his contract, at more than $10 million as well. That would be maybe over the luxury tax next season with five players. There’s no way, really, a team in this environment—even with a new arena coming—can afford that situation.
But perhaps more importantly from a basketball standpoint, Turkoglu was the Magic’s key playmaker, especially at the end of games. You could put the ball in his hands to make plays or shots. Hello, Orlando. Get used to the fallaway three pointer.
Carter has consistently been with underachieving teams. Must be a coincidence, though.
The headline notion is these deals make the Cavs and Magic favorites in the East. But these are big names that no longer match their games. Shaq’s teams since winning the title in 2006 with Shaq as a supporting player have fallen well short of expectations, or, at least, hopes.
Shaq’s a fun teammate and a great character.
But his best days are long gone. One big issue with having him is he still seems to need to be the Shaq character, which means scoring, dunking and saying Shaq stuff.
LeBron has no idea what he is getting into.
It’s the main reason Michael Jordan never wanted Bill Cartwright. Big scoring slashers don’t want big men who clog the lane. Michael accepted Cartwright when he realized Cartwright wasn’t there to score but defend.
There will be talk Shaq is on a mission again with a chance to win a championship and he’ll say all the right stuff. He’s basically a good guy. I know the Cavs feel they now need someone to deal with Dwight Howard. Hey, you know they’ll have the most creative pregame celebrations ever. And you’ll have as much coaching impact as Mike Brown. I’m told the team actually may let Brown go and just use a wax mannequin to save money and for all Brown will be able to do.
As for Carter, he doesn’t run anymore and isn’t really much of a defender. I know the Magic had an awful backcourt, and Carter is an upgrade in talent. But not with the loss of Turkoglu. So we’ll see.
If I were the Bulls I wouldn’t be that concerned.
It’s been a busy week in the Eastern Conference with Richard Jefferson going to the Spurs from the Bucks for some salary relief so the Bucks can bring back either Ramon Sessions or Charlie Villanueva and now have the salary room for a cap exception player. I like the deal for the Spurs in committing to make a last run with Tim Duncan. The Bucks need to show they can replace that scoring, which won’t be easy. They have considerable questions.
Our old buddy Jamal Crawford moved on to Atlanta. It’s a good insurance move for the Hawks in case they can’t bring back free agent Mike Bibby and if they can’t resign Joe Johnson after next season.
There’s some thinking that Johnson could emerge as a key free agent if guys like James and Dwyane Wade elect to stay with their teams. Jamal can score and gives the Hawks some better size for matchups. But we know Jamal. Good guy. Not always good shots.
As for Toronto, they refuse to talk with anyone for now about trading Chris Bosh. The feeling is if he comes available it will be next February at the trading deadline. The Hornets continue to concentrate on dealing Tyson Chandler with rumors of a deal for Amar’e Stoudemire, the latter who doesn’t appear to be on the Bulls radar for now. So David West isn’t about to go anywhere, it doesn’t seem.
We’ll see in a few hours what the Bulls are up to. But it doesn’t seem, at least for now despite all the big moves, that they’ve lost any real ground in the East.