Cleveland The Cleveland Cavaliers are close to acquiring center Shaquille O’Neal in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press today.
The teams have reached an agreement in principle on the deal, which would unite O’Neal with Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, the NBA’s MVP.
O’Neal will join Cleveland in exchange for center Ben Wallace, guard Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round draft pick and cash, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league still must approve the deal.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the deal.
The teams have been talking about the possible swap for months and finally completed it one day before the NBA Draft.
The 37-year-old O’Neal, who has won four NBA titles, had one year left on his contract with the Suns. Phoenix acquired him from Miami in February 2008.
He averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds last season and appeared in his 15th All-Star game.
The Cavaliers also were 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.