By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Feb 13 2009 7:58PM
The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors completed their long-discussed trade Friday, with the Heat sending forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks to Toronto in exchange for forward/center Jermaine O'Neal and guard Jamario Moon.
The trade talk between Toronto and Miami was first reported on NBA-TV's "The Beat" show Jan. 13.
The Heat also receive a future first-round draft pick, to come sometime between 2010 and 2015.
It's lottery-protected, essentially meaning the first time the Raptors make the playoffs after this season, their first-rounder goes to Miami. If Miami does not get that first-round pick in 2010, it will get an additional second-round pick that year.
If Miami does not get that first-round pick in 2010, it will get an additional second-round pick that year. The Heat also get a $4.2 million trade exception, which would allow Miami to make a future trade even if the salaries involved don't match.
As a part of the deal, the Raptors also receive cash considerations.
"This is a win-win for both Toronto and Miami and we wish J.O. and Jamario the best," said Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo, who is familiar with Marion from his time with the Phoenix Suns.
NBA officials approved the swap Friday afternoon by conference call, the Heat said. All players involved will likely have to pass physicals, which can be waived by agreement.
"I developed an unbelievable relationship with Shawn," Heat star guard Dwyane Wade said in Phoenix, where he's part of NBA All-Star 2009. "You're sad to lose a friend on and off the court. At the same time, Shawn and I just had this conversation that it's part of the business and we knew it was a possibility."
The deal had been discussed for more than a month, with Miami shopping Marion's expiring $17.8 million contract around the league. After discussions with several teams, however, the Heat couldn't find a better partner than Toronto, which was looking to unload O'Neal after a brief (but disappointing) stint with the Raptors.
"It gives us some power down low, which since Shaq left we've been missing," Wade said. "We really need that to compete in the Eastern Conference. Our main thing is we need to get it together fast. Making a trade at this time sometimes makes it tough on teams to get everybody on the same page. Hopefully, we can."
O'Neal never meshed with All-Star forward Chris Bosh, with both men needing to operate in the low post. When O'Neal was out of the lineup with injuries, the Raptors played more cohesively, with third-year center Andrea Bargnani more comfortable on the perimeter, leaving Bosh space to operate down low.
Marion, sent with Banks to Miami by Phoenix last year in the trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Suns, had similar problems adjusting. He played a lot of power forward in the Western Conference, and with the run-and-gun Suns, he was able to get out on the perimeter and use his speed and quickness effectively against bigger defenders. But in the East, he struggled. Miami played him more at small forward, and he lost many of his advantages.
But Marion still played well at times, including his final game for the Heat Thursday in Chicago, when he took a give-and-go pass from Dwyane Wade for a game-winning dunk in the final seconds of a 95-93 victory over the Bulls. Marion said at halftime of the Bulls game that he "was a professional" and could handle the trade talk surrounding him.
In recent weeks, Marion was referred to by both Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and president Pat Riley as the team's "second-best player" behind Wade.
"They're getting a great, great player in Shawn," Riley said.
Marion's arrival in Toronto will give the Raptors a very athletic frontcourt, playing next to Bosh and Bargnani, and allow the Raptors to play more in transition, the style of play preferred by Toronto general manger Bryan Colangelo -- who helped build the same style of team in Phoenix that Marion starred on for parts of nine seasons. A source close to Marion said that after having initial concerns, Marion was now open to the idea of re-signing with the Raptors after the season when he becomes a free agent.
O'Neal gives Miami two things: a legitimate post player to throw the ball into and financial flexibility down the road. The Heat had started rookie Michael Beasley, the second pick overall in last year's draft, at power forward early in the season. But recently, Miami has brought Beasley off the bench in favor of Udonis Haslem at power forward and Joel Anthony at center. Beasley has been playing more at the small forward spot.
O'Neal averaged 13.5 points and seven rebounds for Toronto. The 30-year-old's presence will allow Miami to continue developing Beasley at small forward.
Miami has played an array of players at center this season, including Jamaal Magloire, Anthony, Blount and even Haslem, a forward who gives up several inches in height and at least 20 pounds to every other true center in the NBA.
O'Neal's contract expires in 2010, the year of the celebrated free agent class led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh. If Miami opts to let O'Neal go after that season, it will clear the $23 million on his contract that year off its books and be in position to be a major player in free agency. With Banks's $4.8 million that season also gone now, Miami has less than $30 million committed in salaries that year, meaning the Heat could be in position to add one or two max-level free agents to go along with Wade and Beasley.
The deal takes Miami out of the sweepstakes for Phoenix forward Amar'e Stoudemire, who's being shopped by the Suns. Miami and Chicago were two of the teams that had made strong plays for Stoudemire.
Wade sounded intrigued by the acquisition of Moon, who averaged 7.3 points in 54 games with Toronto, and becomes a free agent after this season..
"Jamario Moon is really under the radar as far as what he can do," Wade said.
Banks averaged 2.6 points in 16 games with Miami this year. He "should benefit from the change of address," Colangelo said.
With Banks gone, Miami has only two true point guards on the roster: Mario Chalmers and Chris Quinn. The Heat do have room to sign another player, so it's likely Riley will pursue either picking up a guard through free agency or making another trade.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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