In a move that can only be called LeBron-appeasing, the Cavs traded for Shaq today. This is a good thing for them for a few reasons:
1) Shaq is still one of the top 5 centers in the NBA. He will provide a post scoring presence for them that will take some of the scoring pressure off of LeBron. It will also improve their interior defense and rebounding, specifically against more physical centers like Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins.
2) Shaq will allow LeBron to take advantage of his passing skills, as he can drive to the hoop and kick it out at the last minute to a proven finisher in the paint. It will also allow LeBron to play off the ball and get himself free for a shot or to drive to the basket. It will also keep defenses from being able to double-team LeBron.
3) Both of these guys are hilarious, especially Shaq. The two of them on the same team should provide endless entertainment both on and off the court. If anyone thinks that they are going to clash in that classic alpha dog fashion, they haven’t been paying attention to either player for long enough. LeBron deferred to both Kobe and Wade in the Olympics, and was more than happy to give them all the scoring chances they wanted so he could use his freakish athleticism in other ways, like passing, rebounding, and shot blocking.
And Shaq has shared teams with Kobe, Wade, Nash, and Amare, and each combination was a successful one. Both of these guys are well-liked by their teammates, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t be the same way with each other.
4) The Cavs get to show LeBron that they are trying to win a championship with him so that he won’t leave town after next year. They can’t just promise him that he’ll win there sometime in the future. They need to at least get to the finals in order for him to stay. This team can definitely do that. On top of that, Shaq’s contract expires after next year, so they can either renegotiate with him, or try to get one of the marque free agents such as Chris Bosh, Dwane Wade, Brandon Roy, Joe Johnson, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Marcus Camby, Rudy Gay, LaMarcus Aldridge, Raijon Rondo, Ray Allen, and possibly Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Paul Pierce, Amare Stoudamire, Tyson Chandler, and Richard Jefferson if they choose to opt out of their current deals. [Note: I definitely didn't need to list every single one of them, but my point was that there are a TON of big names that will be available. It will probably look like a free-for-all next summer. Also, I purposely omitted Tracy McGrady because he's not good at playing basketball anymore.]
So basically, the Cavs have a genuine shot at the 2010 championship, and should be able to keep LeBron both because of that and because of their ability to sign another big name free agent to go along with resigning King James. Also, the chances of LeBron coming to NYC are pretty slim. The Nets, owned by his friend Jay Z, will still be in New Jersey until at least 2012, and possibly forever. There is a huge legal battle over building a stadium in downtown Brooklyn. And the Knicks are still in tatters, and have shown no proof that they could build a championship team for LeBron were he to go there. Breath easy Cleveland.
Also, just for kicks, this is what Shaq has to look forward to after living in LA, Miami, and Phoenix for the last 13 years: