Breakdown of the Heat-Raptors Trade

February 15, 2009

On Friday the Miami Heat traded Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Jermaine O'Neal, Jamario Moon, and a 2010 conditional first-round pick. The ramifications of this deal will not only affect the 2009 playoff picture, but also will impact the 2010 offseason free agent market.


In dealing Jermaine O'Neal, Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo essentially has admitted that his Bosh-O'Neal twin tower experiment was a failure. In fact, when Colangelo traded for O'Neal this summer, many were shocked that a willing taker could be found for the high-priced, oft-injured big man.

Although O'Neal has had a fairly healthy season by his standards, the Raptors struggled to a mediocre 21-34 record. A change was needed.

The addition of Shawn Marion will fill Toronto's hole at the three. Marion also could play some minutes at the four, as he did in Phoenix, should the Raptors elect to go small.

What Marion brings is outstanding perimeter defense, active rebounding, and respectable three-point shooting. Marion still remains among the most athletic and exciting finishers in the NBA.

The best aspect of Marion's game is that he can fill up the stat sheet without having plays called for him. In other words, Marion can get 20 points on any given night merely by hitting the offensive glass for second-chance points, filling the lane on the break, and spotting up for outside jumpers. Because of this ability, Marion is that rare creature not often found in NBA circles - a "star" role player.

What the overpaid Marion cannot do is consistently create his own shot. You cannot consistently run a set through him in the post, nor can you clear out a side and let him go one-on-one. So in that sense, his game is limited. He is by no means a max contract type player.

Fortunately, Toronto can run its offense through Chris Bosh and point guard Jose Calderon. This will allow Marion to do what he does best - feed off the creativity of others as a reliable third option.

Then there is the added benefit of Marion's contract.

When Marion's deal expires at year's end, Toronto could have $17 million removed from its books should they let him walk. If the Raptors elect to re-sign him, they could probably do so for significantly less money, given the drop in Marion's numbers since leaving the statistics-inflating system of Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix. More importantly, Toronto is now free of the obligation of having to pay O'Neal another $23 million next year.

The addition of Marion, coupled with the increasing consistency of Andrea Bargnani, could make Toronto's Bosh-Marion-Bargnani frontline among the best in the Eastern Conference. The key to how well that trio functions ultimately depends on Bargnani, as he is the only one of the three without a proven track record.

Colangelo's decision to select Bargnani as the first pick in the entire 2006 NBA draft was a horrific mistake. Most had him projected to go around pick number 9, or later, but Colangelo seemed to have stubbornly and irrationally made up his mind to go with this guy from the beginning. By doing so, the franchise missed out on sure-things LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Worse yet, it had to live through Bargnani's inconsistent stretches. Only recently has Bargnani shown signs that, at a minimum, he can provide double-digit points for the club on a nightly basis.

Point guard Marcus Banks doesn't figure to do much, as he will be strictly backup material for Calderon. And there is no guarantee that he even cracks the rotation, since he will have to first beat out prospect Roko Ukic. Banks does bring some quickness, and a streaky outside shot. Unfortunately, he will account for over $4 million in salary on Toronto's books next year.


1. It Improves Miami's Playoff Chances This Year.

Dwayne Wade has had an MVP-caliber year, but he needed more help. Marion had proven to be an inadequate second option for Miami, due to his inability to create his own shot in half court sets. Highly-touted rookie Michael Beasley also has proven to be unreliable, as he still is learning on the job, and is not quite ready to assume second fiddle status. Meanwhile, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Daequan Cook, and the rest of roster, are mere role players who lack the firepower to give Wade a hand every night.

That's why O'Neal fits in well. When healthy, he can provide the Heat with double figure scoring each night at the 5 spot. The Heat can run their offense through him for stretches, as he has a nice face-up 18-foot J, and can score in the low post with a variety of jump hooks and spin moves. O'Neal is also a valuable team defender, as he is among the league's best shotblockers.

The problem for this guy has been health. He's missed a ton of time due to knee trouble, but thus far, seems to have made some strides in that area this year.

O'Neal does tend to turn the ball over, and has been viewed as somewhat of a disappointment. But this is partly due to him being miscast as a franchise-type player. At best, he is a very good, but not dominant, talent, who is best served by being a second option. In Miami, there is a need for precisely that type of player.

South Beach also has a need for some inside help. Thus far, Miami has used Jamaal Magloire, Joel Anthony, and some other centers by committee to man the 5 spot. A healthy O'Neal greatly improves the team's inside presence.

Trade throw-in Moon is an athletic 3 who can block shots and finish at the rim. Although not an outstanding shooter, he can occasionally hit a three. He should fit into Miami's thin rotation immediately and see some decent playing time.

2. It Takes Miami Out of the 2009 Carlos Boozer Sweepstakes.

With Marion's expiring contract freeing $17 million in cap space, Miami figured to be one of the franchises likely to land free agent Carlos Boozer. However, in acquiring O'Neal, they have taken on another $23 million in salary for next year, and effectively have eliminated their chances of signing a big money free agent in 2009.

3. It Gives Miami a Lift for 2010.

While having to overpay O'Neal next year is no fun, when his contract does expire, Miami will gain a ton of cap space. That space will allow them to possibly bring in a member of the loaded 2010 free agent class to play next to Dwayne Wade. Bringing in a top-tier free agent such as Chris Bosh, also should improve the Heat's chances of re-signing Wade, who happens to be another member of that class.

In addition, Miami will get Toronto's first round pick in 2010, so long as the Raptors make the playoffs. If Toronto falls into the lottery, Miami will get a 2010 second-rounder, and receive Toronto's first-round pick in a later year.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

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