With the Heat having the night off, I thought it would be a great time to analyze the Shawn Marion for Jermaine O'Neal and Jamario Moon trade. A lot of fans have been hard on the trade, because O'Neal has not been the dominant force on the boards that they had hoped, but they are missing the big picture. Yes, if they are to succeed in the playoffs, he needs to be grabbing 8-10 boards a night instead of 6. However, this was a 2 for 1 trade and the numbers of both must be taken into account. Combined, the Heat brought in roughly 20 ppg, 10 rpg, and 3 bpg. Those are numbers that would be a dream out of one player, but hey I will take it from two guys if I have to.
Shawn Marion was not fitting into the system run in Miami, and it was obviously clear to management that the best thing to do would be to move him while still adding value to a team that is going to be in the playoffs. What did the team really lose in Marion? Defense? I would say that Moon has been just as solid as Marion was on the perimeter, but he has not been able to cover players in the post as effectively. That is where the addition of O'Neal comes in. Granted he is not on the level of the great big man in the league anymore, but no longer do we have to worry about guys like Brad Miller lighting us up. O'Neal has given the team a scoring presence inside, a much needed dynamic since they reelied too much on perimeter play. This has not fully taken form yet, as the squad still manages to forget he is on the court after the 1st quarter most of the time, but each game has been a bit better. It is the job of the coaching staff to keep O'Neal active even when he is not getting his touches, so when the 4th quarter comes around he can be that featured low post scorer that can get a few easy baskets.
Playoff basketball is played at a slower pace, and O'Neal's skills were brought in for just that. Marion was not a guy you could throw the ball to anywhere on the court and expect a bucket, unless he was wide open under the hoop. O'Neal is aplayer that can work on the block or the hight post. Since the trade Moon has really come on as a solid wing player. He has energized the squad with his wicked dunks, mostly a result of a Dwayne Wade alley oop, and he has also hit is fair share of three point shots, something Marion was not so good at.
Shawn Marion's contract runs out after the season, but the Heat were not going to use the money saved on him to add any big name players in the offseason, cause they are structuring the finances of the squad to make a push to keep Wade in 2010, while also adding another big contract. With this in mind, the deal makes great sense. Moon's contract runs out after this season and O'Neal's after next year. They have been using the 2nd half of the season to see if Moon fits in with the squad, which I would say he does. Expect management to try to sign him to a cap friendly deal, if they can find a way to move James Jones and his long term contract. O'Neal will be gone after next year, unless he is willing to take a minimum contract, so the Heat is positioned perfectly to make a play for a big named complement for D.Wade in 2010.
In order for the deal to be a smashing success, they are going to need to get production from the two players in the playoffs. Something that is going to be easier now that the roster is more balanced. No more Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, or Mark Blount starting in the middle, which has to make Coach Spoelstra the happiest man in the league. Nice trade by the Heat.