February 13, 2009
by Mark Brown… Toronto, disappointed by the O’Neal experiment so far, decided to deal the big man due to concerns about team chemistry.
Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani seemed to play better when O’Neal was injured, as O’Neal needed room in the low post to operate and crowded the paint. Bosh could not properly play, nor could Bargnani.
By adding Marion, Toronto has a much more athletic front line than in the past and will have a great deal of financial flexibility this summer, when Marion’s $17 million contract goes of the books. Marion’s agent has stated that Marion would not mind re-signing to play in Toronto after his contract expires.
Marion may switch back to the power forward position, where he enjoyed a great deal of success in Phoenix. In Miami, however, he was much less effective as a small forward. Hopefully the trade will allow Marion to get back to his old self.
Banks may get some playing time as a backup to Jose Calderon, but is pretty much just a filler.
The Miami Heat needed a proper center they could throw the ball to down low. More importantly, they needed a defensive presence that could block shots and rebound. With Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem already at the forward spot, Marion’s presence did not allow for other players to get the time they needed.
Now, Beasley can start at the small forward position, Haslem at the power forward, and O’Neal at center.
Miami, too, will get financial wiggle room in the summer of 2010.
O’Neal’s $20 million contract expires, and the Heat may get a chance to add another superstar to add alongside Dwyane Wade. Jamario Moon adds depth and athleticism at the small forward spot, and will be a fairly good perimeter defender.
The deal does take Miami out of the Amare Stoudemire sweepstakes.
The Heat and Chicago Bulls were the two teams making a strong run for him. With Miami now backing down, it will be interesting to see if Chicago will be able to nab Stoudemire.
Both the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat may have significantly improved their teams through this trade.
There is a chance in each scenario that the situation may backfire, but the deal could easily boost either team back among the Eastern Conference’s elite, to perhaps snatch the fourth seed in the playoffs.