DB.com Classic: Shaq's Wish? To Be A Mav

(This story first appeared in April 2009) -- Shaquille O'Neal didn't just stay an extra day in Dallas because, as he claims, he wanted to visit the Grassy Knoll. We're told the Suns legendary center also stayed behind because he thinks all the grass in Dallas might be greener – and that he is angling with Mavs owner Mark Cuban for an offseason trade to Big D.

This storyline is just now revving up again thanks to Shaq's weekend on the town, during which he repeatedly told friends about the Mavs being on his wish list. We've already chronicled his Saturday night pregame party at Dolce Vendetta where he stayed until 1 a.m. before the ensuing afternoon tipoff, but that was a paid-appearance thing. On Sunday, according to sources, he was at it again, reveling/mourning until 4 a.m. with virtually the entire Suns team (we're told that includes everyone from Steve Nash on up) at another Dallas nightclub.

Once again that night, he expressed to those around him his desire to leave Phoenix for Dallas.

"Privately, he's not making any secret of it,'' says one mutual friend of Shaq and DallasBasketball.com. "I bet right after the season ends, it won't be private anymore, either.''

Some bullet-point-worthy thoughts on an offseason Shaq-to-Dallas deal:

*We documented all the Shaq-Cuban connections before the trade deadline when we pushed the story thanks to guidance from a friend of O'Neal's and a close associate of Cuban's; as much of a longshot as it might have been, all parties involved were truly exploring Shaq coming to the Mavs in February.

From Mark's side, as told to us by a source in February: "I can guarantee you this: Mark would love it. He lives for the short-term. That's exactly the kind of thing he likes to pull off. For a lot of good reasons, he'd love to do that.''

From Shaq's side, as told to us by a source in February: "Dallas is pretty much my favorite NBA city. I'd love to live in Dallas. I'd love to be in Dallas.''

*O'Neal eventually got dangled in last-minute talks with Cleveland but those fell through. New coach Alvin Gentry had just been hired and briefly reinvigorated the team. But now, to Suns owner Robert Sarver, his expensive roster – which won't even get his team to the playoffs -- is a white elephant.

*Now, Shaquille O'Neal isn't just a white elephant. He's also an 800-pound gorilla. Despite having just turned 37, he has the stroke (and the four rings) to petition for what he desires. All of which means Sarver may not be in a position of power here.

*Among the many moving parts here: Money, money and more money. Will Shaq want an extension of his $21-million-a-year contract? A wild guess? Yes. What owner out there might O'Neal think has the cash flow to cough up $21 mil times two or three? We'll let you handle that guess yourself.

*As expensive as it would be to do that, "in these economic times'' is there anybody short of LeBron/Kobe who can sell tickets like a rejuvenated-by-trade Shaquille O'Neal? Mark Cuban is both sportsman and businessman. … wouldn't Shaq both ensure Dallas' continuing playoff run/contention while also keeping the Dallas Mavericks brand at the fore? (Probably. But "one year'' still has a nice ring to it.)

*Will Phoenix consider dumping him for little in return (i.e., something other than Josh Howard as the centerpiece, like say, the expiring Damp)? And if so – if what Dallas sacrifices is only cap room -- isn't it rather tantalizing to think of a Mavs lineup featuring Dirk, Shaq, Kidd , Josh and Jet?

*On the other hand, doesn't that sound a lot like the flashy and expensive and elderly O'Neal/Nash team that is in the process of failing to qualify for the playoffs?

*Both Cuban and Shaq are too smart to allow any of this flirting to be misinterpreted as tampering. All they're doing is Tweeting, right? And heck, it seems O'Neal really did visit the JFK assassination site. *Is it possible the O'Neal is simply using Dall

as as leverage to land in Cleveland or LA or NY? As long as we're addressing Grassy Knoll conspiracy theories, we might as well mention this.

*Does Shaq help Dallas' future … or clog it up? While it might block the dreamy acquisition of big-name "Yen For '10'' targets, wouldn't it be a drawing card for the second-level bargain-priced vets?

*Can Shaq be counted on to be an 18/8.6 guy as he has been this season? He's started 70 games this year and played 30 minutes per. Can he milk that out of his 7-1, 350-pound body one more time?

*Disclaimer Alert! We always feel obliged to note that as with any trade, it's easier said (and written) than done. But you know us; we're not just fanboy-spitballin' here. Shaq is saying it. … multiple times over the course of two nights, not to mention that it's a repeat of what he was saying before the trade deadline. ... and whether the talks produce an actual trade, his stated desire is news enough for us.

*Some of our information is sourced (as described above.). Some is 2+2=4 stuff. And some of it comes from reading between the lines of Twitter and the like. Immediately after the game, Cuban Tweeted a message praising Shaq's effort in Dallas' 140-116 win. After Shaq Tweeted about the Grassy Knoll, (I'm goin to thje grassy knoll tomorrow) he sent a message to Cuban, asking that the Mavs owner contact him. (Hey mark cuban call shaq or email him) And after that, Cuban wrote:

shaq found me. wish I could say what happened. I kept my cool.

All of this was initiated by Shaq as he was heading out to enjoy his "favorite NBA city,'' mourning the possible end of his Suns career, contemplating the "green grass'' of Dallas and relaxing until 4 a.m. in that club.

The fitting name of the Dallas nightspot?

"Wish.''

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