CLEVELAND, Jun 25 – The LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired 15-time National Basketball Association all-star Shaquille O'Neal in a blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns, ESPN reported on Wednesday.The trade would not only pair O’Neal with superstar James but would also give struggling Phoenix two solid additions in Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.
O’Neal, a four-time NBA championship winner and former first overall pick of the Orlando Magic (1992), would become a dominant force for the Cavaliers.
Nothing is official although ESPN says the trade has been agreed to in principle and an announcement is expected on Thursday.
O’Neal is set to make 20 million dollars in 2009-10. Cleveland unloads Wallace’s 14 million dollar contract and Pavlovic’s five million dollar deal.
O’Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002. The 37-year-old giant centre won the most valuable player award in 2000. The Lakers traded O’Neal to Miami and he led the Heat to the title three years ago.
He averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds in 75 games last season as Phoenix missed the playoffs.
Cleveland hopes O’Neal can help the city break its championship drought. The Ohio city hasn’t won an American sports championship since 1964, the year the gridiron Browns won the National Football League title.