Ball Don't Lie - NBA

By now you know about the deal, and surely by now you are used to the idea of it. Jermaine O'Neal has been sent to the Heat from the Raptors for Shawn Marion's expiring contract. The Raptors also take on Marcus Banks and cash considerations, while the Heat get a true SF in Jamario Moon. A truly below-average small forward, but a true one.

We've already gone over this. Though O'Neal has improved his play of late, he's still a bit of a shell of his former self, he's not the low post offensive presence that some parties make him out to be, and though he can still block shots, he's far from the defensive powerhouse we saw a few years ago.

Worse, taking on O'Neal scuttles any hope of having cap space this summer for Miami. Though you always want to value a B+ center over an A+ power forward, because the pivot is so hard to fill, you have to wonder if this could have cost the Heat a chance at Carlos Boozer. Miami could have added another big free agent this summer while still preparing for oodles of cap space in 2010.

Toronto has it a little better, sooner.

The Raptors will have quite a bit of cap space this summer, even with what would be a lower rung lottery pick (they're currently slated for the 8th spot, so mark that down for about $2.5 million next season), and assuming Joey Graham plays for the Qualifying Offer. If he doesn't, and the Raptors let Shawn Marion walk, Toronto could be looking at about $44.5 million on the books for 2009-10, with a cap that will likely be around the $60 million mark.

That's good news for a team still struggling to find its way.

The Heat? They'll be well over the cap, and in win-now mode. But in the summer of 2010? Pat Riley will have only $12 million dollars on the books, Dwyane Wade to re-sign, and a host of options. Assuming they play out the string. Riles has always been a win-now guy, so who's to say he won't turn over those expiring deals for longer contracts this time next year?

That's part of the fun, I guess.

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