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Danny Ferry

Danny Ferry

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Cavs gear up for a 'Diesel'-powered run: GM Danny Ferry says pairing LeBron, Shaq all about winning a championship Rick NolandINDEPENDENCE — One is called “The King” and “The Chosen One.” The other goes by “The Big Aristotle,” “Diesel” and “Shaq Fu.” With reigning league MVP LeBron James being joined by the 7-foot-1, at least 325-pound presence of Shaquille O’Neal next season, the Cavaliers locker room will certainly be larger than life.

Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry, however, is not worried about personalities and egos.

He’s worried about winning a championship.

Better still, that’s also the main objective of the 24-year-old James and 37-year-old O’Neal, acquired by the Cavaliers from Phoenix on Thursday for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a 2010 second-round draft choice and $500,000.

“They both badly want to win,” Ferry said during a news conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

“Our team and organization want to win.

With that leading it, everything else is going to work out.” Said James in a statement sent to The Associated Press: “Shaq is an incredible ballplayer and a four-time NBA champion.

I have a lot of respect for him and his game.

It will be a real honor to play with Shaq as my teammate and I look forward to another great season with the Cavs.” O’Neal, who was pursued by the Cavaliers at the trade deadline in February, is coming off a season in which he averaged 17.8 points on .609 shooting (second in NBA history), 8.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.1 minutes.

He played in 75 games (all starts), his most since 1999-2000.

“He is a force â€Â" always has been, still is,” Ferry said.

“He’s a wall around the basket — and a tall, long wall.” O’Neal will earn $20 million in the final year of his contract and has stated he’d like to play two more seasons after that, but the Cavaliers will cross that bridge when they come to it.

For now, they’re elated to have a low-post scoring presence and a big man who can help defend the likes of Orlando’s Dwight Howard, who caused them all sorts of problems in the Eastern Conference finals.

“This trade is about our continued quest to win a championship,” Ferry said.

“It was a move that made sense on a lot of different levels.” That the Cavaliers gave up just Wallace and Pavlovic, who weren’t in the team’s plans for next season, made the deal a no-brainer.

Phoenix GM Steve Kerr, a close friend of Ferry’s from their playing days in Cleveland and San Antonio, made some overtures about shooting guard Delonte West, but Ferry wouldn’t budge.

Finally, late Wednesday night, Ferry wanted an answer from the Suns.

Had they said no to the proposed deal — the final trade involves a second-round pick next year because the Cavaliers couldn’t give up their No.

46 choice Thursday due to a technicality — the Cleveland GM was ready to pursue several other avenues.

It is believed that one involved New Orleans center Tyson Chandler, while another likely involved the Los Angeles Clippers’ Marcus Camby or Chris Kaman.

“We talked around it in February,” Ferry said of the trade deadline negotiations with the Suns.

“I’ve never denied that, but I don’t think it ever got as close as a lot of people thought it did.

“It was time to do the deal,” he added.

“We had talked about it a lot the last couple weeks.” From the Suns’ perspective, they got rid of a low-post player who sometimes slowed their wide-open offense during a 46-36, non-playoff season in 2008-09.

More importantly, Phoenix can cut Pavlovic, whose $4.95 million deal for next season includes just $1.5 million in guaranteed money, and buy out or trade Wallace, who is slated to earn $14 million in the last year of his contract.

Already Thursday, there were rumors of the Suns trading Wallace to New Orleans as part of a deal for Chandler, whose athletic style would fit Phoenix’s system.

Though Ferry went out of his way to thank Wallace and Pavlovic for their efforts, what Phoenix does with those players no longer matters to the Cavaliers, who could open the 2009-10 season with a starting lineup of Mo Williams, West, O’Neal, James and Anderson Varejao.

Better still from Cleveland’s perspective, adding a quality power forward and shooting guard would potentially allow West, soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Varejao (if he re-signs) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to come off the bench.

“There’s still more that we need to do,” Ferry said.

Of course, the Cavaliers view the addition of O’Neal — a picture of him in a Cleveland uniform was already posted on his Twitter page Thursday afternoon — as a big first step in the right direction.

That James, one of several Cleveland players Ferry spoke with before pulling the trigger, has always been a big O’Neal fan should help make that larger-than-life Cleveland locker room a happy place in 2009-10.

“To a man, everyone was excited about having him as part of our team,” Ferry said of O’Neal.

“This move and our goals are aligned with what our players want, including LeBron.

We want to win a championship.” So does O’Neal, who won three straight titles with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02) while teamed with Kobe Bryant.

When that duo had a less-than-amicable split, O’Neal earned another ring with the Dwyane Wade-led Miami Heat in 2006, with Bryant getting his first title without O’Neal earlier this month.

O’Neal, who has had his share of public squabbles with Bryant over the years, probably would like nothing more than to move one championship ahead of his former teammate in 2010, while the Cavaliers would like nothing more than to have “The Big Aristotle” do that while playing with “The King.” “Trading for Shaq is a pretty unique opportunity,” Ferry said.

“There’s not too many players in the world like him.” Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or [email protected] BY THE NUMBERS37: His age4: NBA titles (2000-02 with Lakers; 2006 with the Heat)3: NBA Finals MVP awards (all with Lakers)14: Times selected All-NBA5: Spot on all-time NBA scoring list with 27,619 points10: Times led league in field-goal percentageE-mail this story[ Close ] Friend's Name: Friend's Email:Just one e-mail address; thanks.

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Share this Story Filed by Rick Noland June 26th, 2009 in Sports.

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