Trade Retrospective: Shaq To The Heat

With the impending blockbuster deal that will send Kevin Love to the Cavaliers less than a day away, I’ve been taking a look back at past trades involving superstar players. It’s always interesting to see how these deals have worked out over the years for all of the franchises that were involved.

So far I’ve examined the trades that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers; Deron Williams to the Nets; Kevin Garnett to the Celtics; and Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Next up on the agenda is a look back at the July 14, 2004 trade that saw Shaquille O’Neal head from the Lakers to the Heat.

Let’s first recap the players and assets involved:

  1. The Heat received O’Neal.
  2. The Lakers received Caron Butler; Lamar Odom; Brian Grant; and a 2006 first-rounder (Jordan Farmar).

Shaq’s last few seasons in purple-and-gold were tumultuous to say the least. His relationship with the franchise became contentious over his perception that the front office was catering to the whims of Kobe Bryant; his displeasure at being called out publicly over his lack of conditioning by the front office and coaching staff; and his contract squabbles, which Bryant slammed O’Neal over, implying that Shaq was putting himself before the good of the team.

2004 was an offseason of big changes for the Lakers franchise as a whole. Phil Jackson had stepped down as coach of the team, Bryant was a free agent, and was courted heavily by the Clippers, and the roster was in a state of flux. This was after the franchise had gone 56-26, and lost to the Pistons in the NBA Finals.

O’Neal wanted a contract extension, despite having a year left on his current deal, being scheduled to make $29.5MM in 2004/05, a raise from his 2003/04 salary of $26.57MM. O’Neal was the highest paid player in the league at the time, and for comparison, the second highest paid player was Dikembe Mutombo, who earned $19.68MM in 2004/05.

The day after the season ended, O’Neal demanded a trade. “The team wasn’t going in the right direction, and it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of, so I asked to be traded,” O’Neal said at the time. After the trade, Shaq would end up signing a five-year, $100MM extension with the Heat in 2005. O’Neal was still the highest paid player that year, with Chris Webber coming in a close second, earning $19.12MM in 2005/06. Shaq would later be overtaken for the top spot in 2006/07 by Kevin Garnett, who was paid $21MM that season, compared to Shaq’s $20MM.

The Heat had a record of 42-40 the season prior to O’Neal’s arrival, and reached the second round of the playoffs where they lost to the Pacers in six games. They improved to 59-23 in Shaq’s first season, losing to the Pistons in the Conference Finals. In his second season, they went 52-30, capturing the franchise’s first NBA title by defeating Dallas in six games.

Lets look at O’Neal’s numbers during his time with the Heat:

  1. 2004/05: 22.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. His slash line was .601/.000/.461.
  2. 2005/06: 20.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. His slash line was .600/.000/.469.
  3. 2006/07: 17.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. His slash line was .591/.000/.422.
  4. 2007/08: 14.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. His slash line was .581/.000/.494.

From Miami’s perspective the trade paid off handsomely the first two seasons, as O’Neal performed rather well, despite not being the same dominant player that he was during his time in Los Angeles. But injuries and conditioning problems eventually took their toll. In 2006/07, O’Neal missed 35 games with a knee injury, and wasn’t quite the same when he returned, and the team only won 44 games, losing to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

The next season saw career lows from O’Neal in virtually every statistical category, and he missed time with various injuries. His coach at the time, Pat Riley, even went as far as to accuse O’Neal of faking some of the injuries to take time off. This was one factor that contributed to his relationship with Riley fracturing, and was the main reason the team decided to trade O’Neal midway through the 2007/08 season.

In February of 2008, O’Neal was dealt to the Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Shaq would see an upswing in his performance during his first full season in Phoenix, averaging 17.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG, while appearing in 75 contests, his most since the 1999/00 campaign. This was Shaq’s last productive season in the league, and his one-year stints in Cleveland and Boston after that were unremarkable.

During Shaq’s eight seasons in Los Angeles, the franchise averaged 54 wins and captured three championships. O’Neal averaged 24.3 PPG and 11.8 RPG during this stretch. The Lakers took an immediate hit after Shaq’s departure, going 34-48 and missing the playoffs during the 2004/05 season.

Caron Butler only spent one season in purple-and-gold, averaging 15.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 1.9 APG. He would then be dealt along with Chucky Atkins to the Wizards for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit.

Brown spent three seasons with the Lakers, and his numbers were:

  1. 2005/06: 7.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG. His slash line was .526/.000/.545.
  2. 2006/07: 8.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 1.8 APG. His slash line was .591/.000/.440.
  3. 2007/08: 5.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 0.8 APG. His slash line was .515/.000/.406.

The Lakers would trade Brown, along with Javaris Crittenton; Aaron McKie; the rights to Marc Gasol, and the Lakers’ 2008 (Donte Greene) and 2010 (Greivis Vasquez) first-rounders, for Pau Gasol and the Grizzlies’ 2010 second round pick (Devin Ebanks).

Brian Grant spent one season with the Lakers, appearing in 69 games, and averaging 3.8 PPG and 3.7 RPG. He was released after the season, then signed as a free agent with the Suns, but he only appeared in 21 games during the 2005/06 campaign, averaging a career low 2.9 PPG. This was Grant’s last year in the NBA.

Jordan Farmar was selected with the No. 26 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, and spent four seasons with the Lakers. His numbers during that stretch were:

  1. 2006/07: 4.4 PPG, 1.7 RPG, and 1.9 APG. His slash line was .422/.328/.711.
  2. 2007/08: 9.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 2.7 APG. His slash line was .461/.371/.679.
  3. 2008/09: 6.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 2.4 APG. His slash line was .391/.336/.584.
  4. 2009/10: 7.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG. His slash line was .435/.376/.671.

Farmar left after the 2009/10 season to sign a three-year, $12MM contract with the Nets. His numbers improved in New Jersey, where he averaged 10.0 PPG in his two seasons there, before being included in the deal with the Hawks that sent Joe Johnson to the Nets in 2012.

Lamar Odom was the most important and productive piece the Lakers received in the trade, and he was a valuable part of their Championship teams in 2009 and 2010. His numbers with the Lakers were:

  1. 2004/05: 15.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 3.7 APG. His slash line was .473/.308/.695.
  2. 2005/06: 14.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 5.5 APG. His slash line was .481/.372/.690.
  3. 2006/07: 15.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 4.8 APG. His slash line was .468/.297/.700.
  4. 2007/08: 14.2 PPG, 10.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG. His slash line was .525/.274/.698.
  5. 2008/09: 11.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 2.6 APG. His slash line was .492/.320/.623.
  6. 2009/10: 10.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, and 3.3 APG. His slash line was .463/.319/.693.
  7. 2010/11: 14.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG. His slash line was .530/.382/.675.

While Odom didn’t measure up to O’Neal’s production during his prime, he was certainly an effective player for the Lakers, and his versatility was a big part of Los Angeles’ success during his years with the team. It’s sometimes easy to forget just how talented a player he was in light of how far he’s fallen in the past few years, mainly due to his off the court issues and reported drug problems.

Odom’s time with the Lakers came to an end in 2011. He was originally a part of the trade with the Pelicans that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles, but the league vetoed the trade. This was when the New Orleans ownership situation was in a state of flux, and the NBA was in charge of the franchise. Many team owners spoke up against the deal, but the league office said the trade was turned down for purely basketball reasons.

After the details of the proposed trade were made public, Odom stated that he felt disrespected, and demanded a trade to a contending team. One week later his wish was granted, and he was shipped to the Mavericks along with a 2012 second-rounder (Darius Johnson-Odom), which was later sold back to the Lakers, for an $8.9MM trade exception, along with a 2012 (top-20 protected) first-rounder. The first round pick was later sent to the Rockets in the deal that netted the Lakers Jordan Hill. The pick was then sent to the Thunder in the James Harden trade, who in turn used it to select Mitch McGary with the No. 21 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

The O’Neal trade was one that worked out in the end for both sides. The Heat reaped the immediate benefits, winning the title in his second season with the team. Most franchises would gladly make a deal that netted them a banner to hang in their arena’s rafters. But Shaq’s tenure didn’t end well in Miami, due to injuries and clashes with the coaching staff, which somewhat lessens the Heat’s end of the trade despite their having obtained the best player in the deal.

The Lakers’ situation was different than the one that the Wolves now find themselves in with Love. Shaq was openly disruptive his last season and a half in Los Angeles, and he publicly demanded a trade. Retaining him could have caused Bryant to sign elsewhere as a free agent, which would have been disastrous, especially if he went to the Clippers.

Love has been a good soldier throughout all of the losing seasons in Minnesota, but the franchise still has no choice but to deal their star, lest they lose him for nothing next summer. It’s not an ideal situation, but the Timberwolves’ return for Love could turn out to be rather decent if Andrew Wiggins develops into the superstar many scouts project him to be.

Los Angeles didn’t net a player of Wiggins’ potential in their trade with Miami, but Odom was a vital piece of the puzzle during his time with the Lakers. It’s doubtful that the Wolves will contend for a championship in the next few seasons, though the Cavs hope to repeat what the Heat did after the Shaq trade and vie for the title in the coming years. It’s never an easy decision to trade away a star player, but some franchises have no other choice. Time will tell who wins the Love-Wiggins swap.

View Comments (6)