Pat Riley masterminded a brilliant trade as the Miami Heat traded Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Toronto Raptors for Jermaine O’Neal, Jamario Moon, and a lottery-protected first round draft pick. Basically he dominated former NBA Executive of the Year, Bryan Colangelo, and now has a team that can make some waves in the East this postseason. This trade is so much better for the Heat on so many levels.
Let’s break it down.
1. The Heat got the better players. The Heat didn’t need Marion from the moment they selected Michael Beasley with the second overall selection in last year’s draft. So, in a sense, they traded away their biggest headache who was going to walk away from the team this offseason and got to throw in Banks; ugly contract to boot. Coming to South Beach will be a rejuvenated JO and the dangerous Moon. Moon is a wildly athletic wing who will give them tenacious defense and a sparkplug off the bench.
2. The Heat save money for 2010. With all eyes on the 2010 free agent class, this works perfectly for them. O’Neal’s $23M comes off the books just in time to lure a Chris Bosh to come play next to Dwyane Wade. Wow. Plus, they save an additional $5M by getting rid of Banks because now the Raptors will be on the hook for paying a third-string point guard ludicrous amounts of cash.
3. JO will bounce back now. Watch. Just like when Shaq got dealt to Miami and experienced a newfound ability to play like his former self, so too will JO. O’Neal has seemed injured and/or terrible the past three seasons, and let’s try to understand why. Hmmm…it’s probably because he had to shovel snow in Indiana and Toronto all winter while playing for awful teams. Now he gets to sit out on the beach in paradise while he slots into the Miami frontcourt next to Udonis Haslem and Beasley, while forming a perfect complement to the backcourt solidified by Mario Chalmers and D-Wade. Scary good.
4. The Heat are contenders again. While they are still not as good as the Top 3 in the East, they are now right there with the Hawks as the next best thing. If we get a 2002-like performance out of JO and a jump in maturity from Chalmers and Beasley, this Heat team can make a run in the East playoffs. Never count out D-Wade, especially when he has some help.
5. Somehow they negotiated a first round pick away from the hopeless Raptors. Hilarious!
Bottom line, this Heat trade was magnificently done by one of the game’s greatest minds, and Colangelo is now faced with trying to explain this to the rabid Toronto fan base. Does anyone really think Marion is going to stick around next year when his contract expires? No. With Bosh expected to ride the gravy train out of Canada next year, what incentive would Marion have to stay? Now it appears Colangelo traded away his $23M salary dump for 2010, his best sparkplug youngster, and a pick, to rent Marion for two months and ultimately not reach the playoffs. Seems pretty smart.