As Jermaine O’Neal and his troublesome right knee returned to the Toronto lineup on Friday night, perhaps no one studied the Toronto Raptors center more closely than Pat Riley. The Miami Heat president has been seriously considering a trade package for O’Neal that would send Shawn Marion to Toronto, multiple league sources said. Yet Riley first needs to see O’Neal’s progress before he’ll make the leap of faith on a trade.
Nevertheless, O’Neal, 30, was telling league associates as recently as Friday that he believes there’s a good chance he’ll end up in Miami. “If he’s healthy,” one source close to O’Neal said Friday, “it could very well happen.” League executives say that Riley has been determined to make a deal for a center, and has had substantive talks with Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo.
Riley “doesn’t seem as interested in cap space this summer,” said a rival executive who exchanged trade proposals with him recently. “He just seems concerned with having space in 2010.”