Miami Shaquille O'Neal is prepared for the Miami Heat to trade him, a confidant of the 14-time All-Star center told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
O'Neal's associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal anything publicly, indicated a move could be imminent.
"Shaq thinks something will happen," the associate said.
The Miami Herald reported earlier Tuesday that the Heat are in "serious and ongoing" trade negotiations with the Phoenix Suns. A Heat spokesman said the team had no comment, and several Suns officials didn't immediately return phone calls from The AP.
The Herald report said the Suns would send Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami in exchange for O'Neal, who is averaging a career-low 14.2 points and has been sidelined for the past two weeks by a lingering hip injury.
When asked last week about another report that a Shaq trade was possible, Heat coach Pat Riley said, "Not true."
It isn't known if O'Neal - who has two full seasons remaining after this one on his $100 million, five-year contract - would welcome a trade.
A four-time NBA champion, O'Neal entered this season talking about how he wanted to win at least one more title, saying his "legacy" wouldn't be complete unless he left the game with at least five rings.
If he's going to get No. 5 this year, he'd have to go elsewhere.
The Heat have lost 19 of their last 20 games and have the NBA's worst record at 9-37 - meaning the 2006 NBA champions are almost a lock to miss the postseason. Phoenix, meanwhile, entered Tuesday with a 11â2-game lead over New Orleans and Dallas in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.
To this point, O'Neal's year has been largely forgettable.
Miami's record has plummeted, O'Neal is going through a divorce and his scoring average is nearly 111â2 points below his 25.6 career mark. He suffered a bruised hip on Dec. 22 and has missed four of the past five weeks while trying to recover.
The team said he was undergoing another MRI exam on Tuesday, presumably to further determine the extent of the injury, and O'Neal didn't speak before leaving Miami's practice. The Heat play at Detroit tonight.