A look at the colorful career of four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal.
For now, the Cavaliers, who came up short this year despite winning 66 regular-season games and their first eight playoff games, are only thinking of unseating the Lakers as champions next June.
O’Neal could be the missing piece. But there’s no guarantee he’ll stay healthy, and it’s way too early to know what impact his arrival will have on Cleveland coach Mike Brown’s offense or the Cavs’ chemistry — or whether he and James, who have been friends for several years, can coexist.
“They both badly want to win,” Ferry said. “Our team and organization want to win. With that leading it, everything else is going to work out.”
O’Neal is coming off an All-Star season with the Suns, averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in 75 games, but there were times he clogged Phoenix’s high-powered offense under coaches Mike D’Antoni, Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry. Still, the 7-foot-1, 325-pounder can be a defensive stopper.
“He’s a wall around the basket — a tall, long wall,” Ferry said.
The Shaq experiment failed in Phoenix. The Suns won one playoff game in O’Neal’s season and a half, and this spring the Suns failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Ferry, who said O’Neal’s arrival could push Zydrunas Ilgauskas out as a starter, is convinced O’Neal will be able to adjust to Cleveland and vice versa.
“Phoenix played a different way when they had him,” he said. “It was a drastic change. We’re more of a half-court team. We play more of the tempo that fits Shaq’s game.”
The Suns got little in return for O’Neal, but the deal gives them financial flexibility in the future. All told, they will save $10 million.
“Obviously the last few years we’ve had a very high payroll,” Kerr said. “We’ve had a very good team and we’ve made a big, strong push. Clearly the last couple of years we’ve been on the decline, and things have not worked out as well as we had hoped, so now it’s time to adjust.”
The 34-year-old Wallace, who after the season said he may retire, is in the final year of a $14 million deal while the Suns plan to buy out Pavlovic, who has $1.5 million of his $4.95 million contract guaranteed.
For the Cavs, up front costs are less important than a chance to finally win it all.
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