Phoenix has also fielded calls from other teams that have inquired about [Shaquille] O’Neal, including the Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks. While getting talent in return is a priority, the Suns’ desire for financial relief is real, which means they will likely trade O’Neal and his $20 million contract this offseason.
…Dallas could send the Suns Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier, but the Suns have little interest in the Mavericks’ plodding center, especially since he has two years and more than $23 million left on his contract. [emphasis mine]
First things first: the reason why Dampier is a valuable trade chip is because that second year on his contract that Broussard cites is actually unguaranteed money. Damp is very nearly a free agent, and that’s likely the only reason why he’d turn a head in the trade market.
But I wouldn’t read too much into the O’Neal rumors regardless. Broussard makes it crystal clear that the Suns aren’t willing to send away Shaq for savings alone, as doing so would be Steve Kerr leveraging the franchise straight into the ground. He broke up the core, brought on the departure of a beloved coach, and changed the style; getting rid of Shaq isn’t just admitting defeat, but admitting that no small move can make things right. It’d send a bad message to Steve Nash, to Amare Stoudemire, and to the fanbase (including those ever valuable season ticket holders).
Damp and Jerry Stackhouse are the trade chips most often linked to O’Neal and his mammoth contract, and it’s unlikely that saving a few bucks will be enough to inspire Kerr to send his career into a tailspin. Robert Sarver may pull a lot of puppet strings with dollar signs in his eyes, but I just don’t see this one happening in the name of a few million. If the Mavs somehow included a signed-and-traded Bass, that’s a possibility. If they include Josh Howard, that’s a possibility. If they even included J.J. Barea, the Suns might pay attention for a few seconds. But Dampier and Stackhouse alone? I wouldn’t count on it.