Several league sources are indicating that the Miami HEAT and Toronto Raptors are in the official stages of discussing a trade that would swap out Jermaine O'Neal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. The only holdup at this point is whether or not JO is actually healthy. O'Neal played his first game since December on Friday (at Indiana of all places), and scored 2 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in only 17 minutes of action. Miami wants to wait a few more games—and rightfully so—to make sure he's actually healthy
Financially it sort of makes sense. Considering how much money Marion and O'Neal each make it would be nearly impossible to match salaries fairly in any trade, unless it was for each other. It also makes sense from a team needs standpoint, considering the flashes of brilliance Andrea Bargnani has shown at center lately in Toronto, and how badly Miami needs a big man.
Would Miami prefer Utah's Carlos Boozer, perhaps this summer when Marion's gigantic salary comes off the book and they can pursue the Booze in free agency? Of course, but there's no guarantee he'll be available then. O'Neal is available now, and his $23 million salary comes off the books in the summer in 2010, meaning they can still go after Chris Bosh when the time is right. If JO is healthy, keep your eye on this developing story in the next week or so.
The Raptors are moving toward a significant mid-season trade that would ship Jermaine O'Neal to the Miami Heat for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks in a deal involving highly paid veterans unable to fit seamlessly into new situations.
Multiple league sources confirmed yesterday that talks have progressed to the point where the trade, although not imminent, could be finalized when the Heat are satisfied O'Neal is healthy enough to help them in their drive for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
How many more games it will take to convince the Heat is unclear, but the sources confirmed talks are nearly completed at the highest levels of each organization.
Raptor officials, citing long-held team rules, would not comment on trade speculation.
O'Neal, according to sources and various Internet reports, has told friends and acquaintances that he expects to be dealt to Miami. League sources tell the Star that nothing is expected to happen in the next 24 or 48 hours and it could be more than a week before any deal is finalized.
The Raptors have a home game against Phoenix today and start a three-game road trip in Atlanta tomorrow; the Heat played last night and today and begin a four-game homestand on Wednesday.
One thing is certain, and that is the Raptors are shopping the 30-year-old O'Neal, who played Friday night for the first time in 10 games in Toronto's loss to the Indiana Pacers after missing nine games with a knee injury.