JMLinkinPark Posted July 13, 2004 Share Posted July 13, 2004 Band of players follows Shaq's wagon By Chris Perkins, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Tuesday, July 13, 2004 MIAMI -- NBA free agents are lining up for the opportunity to play alongside Shaquille O'Neal in a Miami Heat uniform. And the line starts behind sharp-shooting San Antonio forward Robert Horry. "Robert loves playing with Shaq," said Robert Barr, Horry's agent. "If Shaq is going to be there, there is definitely going to be interest." New Jersey's Rodney Rogers, who plays both power forward and small forward, wants to play in Miami, too. "He has plenty of interest," Rogers' agent, James Butch Williams said. "I think that would be a tremendous addition. Not speaking as an agent but speaking as a fan, if the Heat put Rodney with Shaq... you talk about physical. You're physical at the five (center) as well as the four (power forward) and three (small forward)." Barr and Williams said they'll definitely call the Heat this week. Atlanta guard Bob Sura also wants to team with Shaq. "My agent has had preliminary discussions with them," Sura said Monday. "Of course I would have interest. They're in great position now." Milwaukee forward Toni Kukoc might even be back in the mix for Miami. This is the drawing power O'Neal has throughout the NBA. Doors that were closed to Miami a week ago now are wide open. "Everyone wants to play with the best player in the league," Sura said. "Especially being a guard or perimeter player. It helps." Granted, this isn't the Who's Who of the NBA, but considering Miami has only the $5.1 million mid-level exception and the $1.6 million exception and it's a thin market, things could be much worse. The Heat could be without O'Neal's recruiting ability. "Everybody loves to play with great players so I think that's a big part of the attraction," agent Mark Bartelstein said. "The other side of the coin is there's only so much a team can do economically. He takes up such a huge amount of cash. "But all things being equal, everybody would love to play the game with Shaquille O'Neal. He makes the game easier." Bartelstein said he has talked with the Heat about Lakers guard Derek Fisher, but Fisher is weighing several opportunities, including the Lakers and Houston. Bartelstein also has talked with the Heat regarding Toronto guard Corie Blount, Utah guard Mo Williams and Cleveland forward Eric Williams. Those talks were going on before the news that the Heat would acquire O'Neal in exchange for center Brian Grant, forwards Lamar Odom and Caron Butler and a first-round pick no sooner than 2006. Since the trade news has gone public, many players have taken a second look at the Heat. Kukoc could be one of them. Kukoc is spending time on his boat in Croatia right now and has expressed a desire to return to Milwaukee. But O'Neal could change that. Kukoc likely doesn't know about the trade. "A couple of weeks ago (Heat General Manager) Randy (Pfund) asked me what Toni's plans were and I told him his plans were to return to Milwaukee, which they are," Herb Rudoy said. "But with the Shaquille O'Neal thing going down Miami becomes much more attractive to Toni." Barr said Horry remains interested in returning to the Spurs. Barr added that the Houston Rockets also are in the running because Horry has a house there. But Barr said right now it's between the Heat and the Spurs. "I can tell you for sure those are his top two teams," Barr said. Sura said he has been talking to Boston, Atlanta, Seattle and others. He said he's not looking to break the bank. "I'm not greedy," he said. "I'm just going to see what falls my way." One of the big unknowns regarding O'Neal's drawing power is whether he can get Lakers forward Karl Malone to follow him. It seems Malone, who is recovering from knee surgery, won't return to the Lakers. He has been quoted as saying O'Neal was the main reason he joined the Lakers. If Miami is able to use O'Neal to attract players who might agree to play for less money -- players such as Malone, Kukoc, Denver's Michael Doleac, Utah's Greg Ostertag or others -- the Heat could piece together some decent talent. But it seems no one is more enthused than Horry. "He loves the big fella," Barr said. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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