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February 13, 2009

Marion-O’Neal Deal Apparently Completed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 3:55 pm

As first reported by Ric Bucher at ESPN.com, it looks like the Heat and Raptors have completed a deal whose framework we’ve known about for some time centered around Shawn Marion and Jermaine O’Neal. In this case, the particulars seem to be very interesting. Toronto has to take on the onerous contract of Marcus Banks while throwing in forward Jamario Moon and also, depending on your source, a first-round pick (Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.com has the pick in the deal).

When this deal was Banks and Marion for O’Neal, I hated it from the Heat’s perspective. O’Neal is an upgrade on what Miami has at center–but only when he’s healthy, which has been far from a guarantee in recent years. At this point, O’Neal is a star player in name only. Meanwhile, when I analyzed Marion’s game, I concluded a lot of the drop-off on his numbers is how he’s being used by the Heat. Add in the extra year on O’Neal’s massive contract and the deal looked lopsided in Toronto’s favor.

Everything else, however, tends to even this swap up. In particular, I think Moon is key. He’s fallen out of favor with Raptors fans, but all his numbers remain strong. Moon has been nearly as effective as Marion by my numbers, and Toronto remains a far better team with him on the floor. For what Miami is asking its small forward to do, Moon should be a good fit. So this deal seems to cement the Heat as a threat for home-court advantage in the East.

From the Raptors’ perspective, their falling to the depths of the conference has opposing effects on this deal. On the one hand, adding Marion surely won’t be enough to make Toronto a playoff favorite. At the same time, the Raptors can cut bait and let Marion go at season’s end to save money if rebuilding looks like the best course.

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