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SHAQING UP IN SOUTH BEACH
Posted by Rob Peterson on July 12 2004 2 p.m. ET

MIAMI SOON TO ADD SHAQ TO SUN, SAND AND SURF

For those who cover the NBA, this is the favorite time of the year. After nine months of trying to explain pin downs, substitution patterns and illegal defense rules (Oh, who am I kidding? Not many beat writers can explain those things), we get two weeks of scoops, scuttlebutt and speculation.

On Wednesday, all of that stops and the transactions begin. One thing is for sure. With the exception of the classic purple and gold uniforms, you won't recognize the Los Angeles Lakers.

(Some would say they didn't recognize the Lakers in The Finals, either, but I digress...)

Shaq's headed to Miami.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

"The Lakers have agreed in principle to trade Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat," writes the Times's Tim Brown, "apparently ending a triumphant and tumultuous eight-year run in which the team won three NBA championships, team and league sources said Saturday."
-- Los Angeles Times

Shaq's agent says the Big Art Deco could be in Miami as early as Wednesday, when teams are allowed to sign and to trade players.
-- New York Daily News

The imminence of Shaq's immigration to the East Coast has already made West Coast writers' heads explode.

Here's a sampling of L.A. headlines after "sources said" Shaq would accept a trade to the Heat:

"From Now On, They're Nothing Special"
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

"It's Not the Heat, It's the Stupidity"
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

"He cried, but made us laugh"
-- Orange County Register (Registration required)

Of course, the mood over Miami is much more, shall we say, giddy? That, and Michael Jordan is supposedly interested in buying into the Heat. (Seems like a smart move now.)
-- Chicago Tribune (Registration required)

More Miami headlines:

"For Heat, this is a super-sized bargain"
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

"Fans electrified by monumental move"
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

"Many assists in scoring Shaq"
-- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

But only one man can stop the trade: Kobe Bryant.
-- ESPN.com

(And you thought Shaq was Superman?)

Bryant is proving himself to be quite the power broker these days as Lakers Fear Shaq-lash by Kobe
-- Los Angeles Daily News

Ah, yes, Kobe Bryant -- electric talent, free agent, diva. Pardon me on that last one, but this is a guy who has made teams come to his home to recruit him. And if you go 12 paragraphs down in this piece, you'll see what conditions Bryant has asked for to potentially sign with the Clippers.
-- Los Angeles Times (Registration required)

For those who don't want to register, here's the paragraph I refer to: "According to sources, Bryant continues to consider jumping to the Clippers, going so far as to ask them to play 10 or 12 games a year at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, which is closer to his Newport Beach home than Staples Center is, and which the Clippers apparently are considering."

Commutes in SoCal can be so hectic.

Also, the Spurs have their sights set on Karl Malone.
-- San Antonio Express-News (Registration required)

Gary Payton, who exercised his option to stay with the Lakers, now wants out by way of a buyout.
-- ESPN.com And Derek Fisher is also a free agent.

Oh, by the way, the Lakers have a new coach. Rudy Tomjanovich is his name and he has quite a quandary on his hands.
-- Los Angeles Daily News

Speaking of quandary, you might want to take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers. Seems that they didn't pick up Carlos Boozer's option for this season, making him a restricted free agent. Boozer said he'd like to stay in Cleveland, but the Jazz offered him a boatload of cash. Boozer looks as if he will sign with Utah. The Cavaliers and their fans feel much pain.

That's the Cliff's Notes version of one of the more intriguing free agent situations in recent NBA history.

Brad Wnidhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal has the best breakdown of this amazing story.
-- Akron Beacon-Journal (Registration required)

(And if you read any story in today's Click, the above is the one you should read.)

Agreement, understanding, deal, it's all semantics, right? Well, if the Cavs and Boozer made a verbal deal before July 1, the official date negotiations can begin, the Cavs could not only loose Boozer, they could be whacked across the knuckles as well.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Seems that the Cavs will need to clear a ton of cap space to re-sign Boozer, if they wish to do so. One paper goes so far as noting that the Cavs must choose between Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) or Boozer will hit zee highway.
-- Willoughby News-Herald

Of course, a situation like this wouldn't be complete without pointing fingers. So, check out at whom these digits are directed.

One scribe (many, really) say Boozer and Pelinka are to blame
-- Lorain Morning Journal

(Pelinka is Rob Pelinka, Boozer's agent. Pelinka is also Kobe Bryant's agent. Make whatever conclusion you wish.)

Another writer says Cavs GM Jim Paxson should pay for Boozer's blunder.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Of course, leave it to an agent to see both sides of the Boozer-Cavs story.
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

Meanwhile, sources close to Boozer say he's bewildered by the criticism.
-- Salt Lake Tribune

(Notice also, that's a Utah paper.)

Finally, one writer notes that it's Cavs fans who get hurt the most.
-- Akron Beacon-Journal (Registration required)

Why did Boozer look elsewhere? Maybe this speculation will help.
-- Akron Beacon-Journal (Registration required)

That being said, look for Boozer's side of the story soon on NBA.com.

From Jim Paxson, we move to his brother John Paxson, who is prepared to trade Jamal Crawford and two other Bulls to the Knicks for ... um, well, you decide.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

Could the Nets and Nuggets be in talks for a sign-and-trade deal that would send K-Mart to Denver?
-- ESPN.com

Another sign-and-trade deal that is actually destined to go through is Stephen Jackson signing a free-agent contract with the Hawks, with Atlanta shipping Jackson to Indiana for Al Harrington.
-- Indianapolis Star

Meanwhile, the Hawks have made an offer to K-Mart.
-- Newark Star-Ledger

(Is it too much to ask for a player named Wally Martin to make the league?)

One report has the Nets willing to match Martin's price.
-- New York Post

Of course, you can go to NBA.com's Player Movement Central to follow all the transactions.

But here's a quick rundown of who's going (or staying).

Charles Barkley's favorite player, Many Gin-O-Bli! (er, Ginobili) will stay a Spur.
-- San Antonio Express-News

And it looks as if Brent Barry will join Ginobili in San Antonio.
-- Tacoma News Tribune

Losing Barry was a break for the Sonics.
-- Seattle P-I

Memphis GM Jerry West made a shrewd move (redundant) by nabbing Brian Cardinal. Is another Warrior, Erick Dampier, next?
-- Memphis Commercial Appeal (Registration required)

The Pistons have made an offer to Antonio McDyess, which also seems shrewd, considering they will more than likely lose Mehmet Okur to Utah.
-- Detroit Free Press

And finally, reports have the Bucks interested in poet, power forward Etan Thomas.
-- ESPN.com

Shaq's face tells you all you need to know regarding what he thinks about the Lakers.
(Andrew D. Bernstein
Getty Images/NBAE)

2003-04 ARCHIVE
July 6 -- Free Agency, Part II
July 1 -- Free Agency, Part I
June 25 -- The Draft Blog
June 21-26 -- Draft Week
June 5-15 -- C&R's Finals
June 5-15 -- The Finals Blog
June 1 -- Love 'Em, Hate 'Em
May 24 -- Three's Magic
May 17 -- Unsung Heroes
May 10 -- Kero-Whacked!
May 3 -- Fugazy Like a Fox
April 26 -- Click Gets Randy
April 19 -- Playoffs CW, IQ
April 12 -- Give Them Away
April 5 -- Fight for First
March 29 -- Prime Time
March 22 -- East Bests West?
March 15 -- Very Scary Bears
March 8 -- Sick and Tired
March 1 -- West Side Story
Feb. 24 -- Surfing the Nets
Feb. 17 -- City of Angles
Feb. 13-15 -- All-Star Blog
Feb. 9 -- Git Up, Git Out
Feb. 2 -- Lobbying for L.A.
Jan. 26 -- Midwest is Best
Jan. 19 -- More Central
Jan. 12 -- Grand Central
Jan. 8 -- Starbury Time
Dec. 29 -- American Rookies
Dec. 22 -- The Greatest Gift
Dec. 15 -- Hail the Kings
Dec. 8 -- Spurs Sportsmen
Dec. 1 -- Holiday Exchange
Nov. 24 -- Hive Talkin'
Nov. 17 -- Clip and Save
Nov. 10 -- Short People

BACKCOURT
Check out NBA.com's "Destination Finals", The Finals and NBA Draft 2004 sections for a complete recap of all of the recent action.

FRONTCOURT
The week that will be:
July 14: Gentlemen, click those pens and start signing!

WEEKLY KERR
Steve Kerr is ... slacking this week. Either that or helping run the Suns. I think it's the latter.