The Toronto Raptors agreed Friday to trade centre Jermaine O'Neal to the Miami Heat as part of a four-player deal that sends forward Shawn Marion to Toronto.
Also heading to the Heat is forward Jamario Moon, while the Raptors get guard Marcus Banks. The Raptors also gave up a conditional draft pick, and receive cash in return.
"I am obviously very familiar with Shawn on both a personal and professional level and feel he will ideally complement our roster and benefit our team in a significant way," Raptors president and GM Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "As far as his pending free-agent status, this is not a move intended to clear space or predetermine a next move. It will however provide flexibility to both Shawn and the Raptors.
"This is a win-win for both Toronto and Miami and we wish J.O. and Jamario the best," Colangelo added.
A swap involving O'Neal and Marion has been rumoured for weeks, with questions about the players' health perhaps holding things up.
O'Neal, a six-time all-star, is in his first season with the Raptors after being acquired in an off-season deal that sent T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic to the Indiana Pacers.
Colangelo had hoped the 30-year-old would be able to return to health after several injury-plagued seasons and form a formidable frontcourt duo with star forward Chris Bosh.
Unfortunately, O'Neal has been slowed by sore knees. Though his averages of 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds are nearly identical to last season's, he has missed 14 of the Raptors' 55 games.
Marion, 30, arrived in Miami last season as part of a trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns. He is averaging 12.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in 42 games this season, and has been troubled by a bad groin.
Marion's best season came in 2005-06 with the run 'n' gun Suns. The versatile small forward set career highs that year in points (21.8), rebounds (11.9) and field goal percentage (.525).
Marion is in the final year of a contract that pays him about $17.2 million US this season. O'Neal is making about $21.3 million this season. His deal expires after the 2009-10 campaign, when he's scheduled to collect just under $23 million.
Miami is making plans for a 2010 summer that could include several stars ready to sign free agent deals.
"It sweeps the table, clears the table, for 2010," said Heat general manager Pat Riley, who was complimentary of Marion.
Moon, 28, is in his second NBA season, both with the Raptors. An explosive leaper, he became a fan favourite as a rookie last year after Toronto signed him from the Gary Steelheads of the United Basketball League.
Moon averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds, and participated in the slam dunk contest during all-star weekend last season, but his averages have dipped to 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 2008-09. He makes about $700,000, and his contract expires after this season.
Banks, 27, has two more seasons left on his deal at an average of about $4.3 million per. The sixth-year pro is averaging just 2.6 points and 1.4 assists.