A lot of scouts have written Shaq off. A lot of them think he hurts a team. That he won’t be willing to settle for a pay cut (Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that Shaq wants $8 million per year — wait, $8 million???). As the days of the offseason pass by, Shaq is reportedly turning a lot of teams off.
Twenty-three days have passed since the free-agent market opened. Sixty-five players have signed new contracts, including 13 centers. Darko Milicic got $20 million. Johan Petro got $10 million.
Yet O’Neal — the Most Dominant Ever, according to the syntactically awkward title he gave himself — is unemployed. Is this the end? Possibly.
This limbo is largely self-created. O’Neal, according to team executives, is seeking an $8 million salary. He wants a two-year deal. He is 38. He has trouble staying healthy. He can be helpful in spurts, but he is no longer the menacing figure who once ruled the paint.
“I don’t know who takes him,” said an Eastern Conference scout, citing O’Neal’s diminished production.
Potential suitors keep drifting away.
There you go. That’s the bad side of Shaq right there. That’s the sober view without offseason beer goggles.
If he keeps asking for $8 million, Shaq is destined to be unemployed next season. So that price will come down. But will it come all the way down to the minimum? Or would the Celtics have to give up Sheed’s contract? I want him for the minimum. He’s worth rolling the dice at that price. But I don’t think I’d be willing to trade Sheed’s contract for Shaq, unless the Celtics could somehow finagle Anthony Parker into the deal. And the Cavs would likely have to be roofied to include Parker — with the loss of Lebron, Parker and Jamario Moon are their only proven wings. Umm, you know, if you really want to call those guys proven.
Plus, remember: Shaq is a free agent, so he isn’t on the Cavs salary. If I’m not mistaken, that means they wouldn’t get any cap relief if they traded for Sheed’s retiring contract. That contract holds zero value to them.