The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns have come to an agreement on a blockbuster trade that sends Shaquille O’Neal to Cleveland to team with LeBron James, according to sources.
The deal has been agreed to in principle and is expected to be finalized Thursday, according to sources.
Cleveland will send Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix for the future Hall of Famer. Sources said the Suns will also receive the 46th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft and $500,000.
The trade gives the Cavs a player they’ve coveted since February. With center Zydrunas Ilgauskas starting to break down, adding Shaq to the roster gives them a dominant force in the middle. The Cavs were obviously unhappy with their ability to defend Dwight Howard in the playoffs and bringing Shaq into the fold should help.
The Cavaliers were also in talks with New Orleans about obtaining Tyson Chandler. If they had not made the trade for O’Neal, they would have traded for Chandler, according to a source.
The Cavs felt O’Neal was the better option because he has just one year left on his contract, and will not eat up cap space that will enable them to pursue free agents such as Chris Bosh in next summer’s star-studded free agent class. Chandler, who has had injury problems the past two postseasons, has a player option for $12.7 million in 2010-2011 that he is likely to pick up.