Friday, May 27, 2005


Summer of Contract Extension Talks await Shaq and the Heat

With one year left on his contract ($30 million plus), Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy are going to have to determine how much they are willing to break the bank to keep Shaq happy in a Miami Heat uniform. O’Neal, who will turn 34 next season, and is once again falling apart at the season’s most crucial moment. His physical breakdown actually began about six weeks ago.

For as much as he’s done for the franchise this year, I just don’t see him playing 70 games a year at a high level was he’s passed his mid-30’s.

I think the best thing the Heat could do is convince him to do something on a year-by-year basis. Eddie Jones’s huge contract expires in 2007. If Jones and O’Neal’s contract both came off the payroll simultaneously, the team would have a blank slate to start over with. Wade will have to be given a Kobe-like extension soon (The acquitted rapist collected 7 years, at $130-some million from L.A. Future max. salary extensions could be shortened to five years, assuming the Commish gets his way this summer with a new collective bargaining agreement).

P.S. I still say the Pistons will wrap up this series in 6 games. If the Heat can find a way to push it to a game seven back in Miami, then I’d be giddy as hell. Still, it’s hard to imagine O’Neal’s injuries allowing him to help Wade carry the series the distance.

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