If the rumors prove to be true, Shaquille O’Neal will be heading to the Phoenix Suns in a trade that no one saw coming. The Miami Heat have agreed to trade O’Neal to the Suns in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. The deal is pending an O’Neal physical later in the day today.
Many are wondering why the Suns would make this deal considering Shaq’s age, contract, and decline in production. Shaq is averaging career lows with 14.2 points a game and 7.8 rebounds a game. In a year where he will turn 36, Shaq is also a constant injury risk. The apparent upside is that Shaq will be reinvigorated when he’s playing with a contender. Time will tell.
Recap – Center Olli Jokinen had a great first half of the NHL season for the Florida Panthers (23 goals, 24 assists), but recently Florida newspapers are reporting the idea of a trade for the team captain. Panthers fan are anxious for something to happen that may help jump start the team, but this is not the right move to make. The situation is reminiscent of when the Boston Bruins traded away their former captain Joe Thornton, and the franchise struggled after the deal. You simply can not trade away that type of leadership in the middle of a season.
2nd Half – The Panthers are currently only 4 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In March they play 9 of 12 games at home, but all of this will not matter if they trade Jokinen. As sad as it may be for ‘Cats’ fan, the move will probably be made by the end of the week, and the last two months may be painful to watch.
Team Name: Florida Panthers
Southeast Division Standing: 4th place
Conference Standing: 12th place
Final Predictions: 5th in Southeast Division, 15th in Eastern Conference