In the aftermath of Cleveland’s loss to Orlando in the East Finals, I suggested the Suns should trade Shaq to the Cavs because of the possibility that Ben Wallace would retire and immediately free up $14 million in cap space.
Of course, the Suns ended up making that cap-friendly deal and will save a cool $18 mil if they buy out Sasha Pavlovic, but after getting back only $4 mil in Wallace’s buyout (plus another $4 mil in luxury savings), it wasn’t exactly the cash windfall I was hoping it would be in a trade that was a pure salary dump.
The biggest reason, of course, is because Big Ben decided he still wanted to play basketball, a decision cemented when he agreed to a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum with Detroit on Friday, according to sources.
Wallace tantalizingly suggested that he would walk away from $14 million for nothing, something that I shouldn’t have been so stupid to believe he would do. After all, do you know anybody who would walk away from that kind of dough for nothing?
The Suns also then acquired Big Ben’s deal as an asset they could move in a cost-cutting trade for another team, such as the rumored Tyson Chandler deal, but they eventually passed on that opportunity.
Unless the Suns choose to pick up an asset instead of saving cash with Pavlovic’s contract, I won’t look at the Shaq trade in as positive of a light as I did at first.
I originally lauded the deal because stylistically and financially the Suns needed to get out from underneath the Shaqtus’ contract, and it benefits the Big Sidekick to go be with LeBron.
However, I also figured the Suns would be getting more than just the flexibility not to have to make any other moves for cap purposes; I thought Wallace and Pavlovic would be turned into assets. Since they weren’t, you really have to wonder why Phoenix couldn’t have squeezed out at least a DeJuan Blair with Cleveland’s first-round pick as far as basketball assets go.
So as Big Ben returns to the place where he became a star, Suns fans should lament the fact he didn’t want to just hang them up (and give Sarver back his salary).