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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Big deals are the big deal in NBA

Draft is pushed to the background, with Shaquille O'Neal and Vince Carter on the move again.

June 26, 2009|MARK HEISLER | ON THE NBA

The ground trembled beneath the NBA once more as Shaquille O'Neal was traded . . . .. as it always does when Shaq joins another team, and this makes five.

Now 37 and a shadow of the Diesel who left the Lakers at 32, O'Neal still reconfigures the league whenever he moves.

Of course, Thursday may be remembered in the NBA as the Feast of the Configuration, with Vince Carter going to Orlando in another deal, amid reports Phoenix has agreed to a deal sending Amare Stoudemire to Golden State.

Oh, the NBA also held its draft, which was important for a lot of teams who haven't been heard from in years.

(For the rest of our draft analysis, please see the bottom of this story.)

We'd better take a closer look at the impact of this memorable day, disaster site, er, team by team:

Cleveland -- Why not?

Shaq is hardly guaranteed to put them over the top and keep LeBron James in Cleveland in what could be a last hurrah for both, but it was a no-brainer.

LeBron wanted Shaq. For the Cavaliers, who must win a title next season or face the possibility James will leave as a free agent, nothing else matters.

Shaq ended a way of life for the running, gunning Suns but fits with the grind-it-out Cavaliers. From the moment the news broke, Boston General Manager Danny Ainge and everyone else in the East all thought the same thing:

Where can I find someone who weighs 280, who can push this monster one inch off the block?

Shaq will be on a mission, in better shape than he has been in years, thanks to the Phoenix medical staff, determined to get a deal for two more years.

In the past, he made half-hearted, at best, attempts to come out on pick-and-rolls. With the defense-oriented Cavaliers, I'd look for him to go all-out.

Of course, glamour notwithstanding -- here comes the wildest season the so-called Mistake by the Lake ever had -- the Cavaliers still have a problem or two:

Will Shaq complement LeBron as he did Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade?

James has always had the middle open, so he can drive to the hoop, or pitch it back to his shooters. The middle will have a large tenant next season.

Worse, the Cavaliers have little more now than LeBron, Shaq, Mo Williams and Delonte West.

Their only athletic big man, Anderson Varejao, is a free agent, with agent Dan Fegan determined to find a big deal to show Varejao's 2007 holdout wasn't idiotic.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas just became an $11.5-million backup, because they couldn't guard five buffalo with Shaq and him on the court.

It will not only be dramatic, because it's title or bust, but fun. These are two of the all-time goofballs, as suggested by the Cavaliers' pregame hijinks, which LeBron organized, and Shaq's hilarious responses in Phoenix.

Orlando -- Whose bright idea was this?

The Magic had a young team that just made the Finals without its All-Star point guard.

Now with Carter, Hedo Turkoglu looks outward bound. Turkoglu was like a second point guard, until Jameer Nelson was hurt and they started running their entire offense through him.

Meanwhile, the Magic took on $51 million over three seasons with Carter, which was why the Nets had to unload him, coming off a fine season.

It can't be a good idea to pay Rashard Lewis $18 million and Carter $17.5 million next season, if they're your third- and fourth-most important players, behind Dwight Howard and Nelson.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to the Finals, guys, because I don't think this is the way back.

Phoenix and Golden State -- I'm not sure there will be any winners if their deal goes through.

If Stoudemire's healthy and Don Nelson can calm the furor, it could work for the Warriors.

On the other hand, Stoudemire isn't what you'd call low-maintenance, and he's a year away from free agency, so the furor may not be over.

It's another disaster for the deconstructing Suns, who will have traded Shaq and Amare for Andris Biedrins, Stephen Curry, Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a 2011 second-round pick and either Brandan Wright or Marco Bellineli.

Meanwhile, Steve Nash has put them on hold, deferring extension talks until he saw what moves they made.

These being the moves, I'm not sure Nash is going to re-up and he may ask them to trade him -- which may be why the Suns had the Warriors draft Curry for them, rather than Jordan Hill.

As for the draft, you can expect more moves, when Minnesota takes point guards at No. 5 (Ricky Rubio), No. 6 (Jonny Flynn), and No. 18 (Ty Lawson).

Lawson has already been traded to Denver, Rubio was taken only so they can trade him, and Flynn is the one they want.

So, to give everyone grades:

Clippers -- A.

Everyone else -- We'll see.

--

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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