Shaquille O'Neal Not in Atlanta's Plans
A source close to the situation said Thursday that Atlanta's ownership doesn't want to exceed the luxury-tax threshold of $70.307 million. The Hawks are about $4 million shy right now.
With that in mind, the Hawks still need to fill their roster with three players. So unless the legendary O'Neal, who made $20 million last season, suddenly wants to play for the minimum or barring some unexpected sign-and-trade offer from Cleveland, he's out of Atlanta's picture.
There was a report of a possible sign-and-trade with O'Neal, who played for the Cavaliers last season, going from the Cavaliers to the Hawks for forward Marvin Williams. But that was shot down by the source, saying the Hawks expressed no desire to trade one of their starters.
The Hawks are pleased with their lineup of center Al Horford, forwards Josh Smith and Williams and guards Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, believing they have one of the better starting units in the NBA.
FanHouse had first reported last week that there was mutual interest between the Hawks and O'Neal, and there was. But the directive from ownership to not exceed the luxury tax has altered that situation.
FanHouse also had reported last week that O'Neal's top choice was San Antonio, followed by Atlanta. The source said the Spurs are not out of the picture, but they have a limited amount of money to offer.
The Spurs have about $2.4 million left on their mid-level exception and $2.08 million on their biannual exception. San Antonio, as first reported earlier this week by FanHouse, is targeting forward James Jones using one of those options.
As FanHouse reported last week, O'Neal, 38, wants to play two more seasons and have a farewell tour during the 2011-12 season. However, teams with money to spend that might be interested in O'Neal are rapidly declining and there appears little chance he can get a deal near the mid-level of $5.765 million, which is what he wants.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson