Amid a wealth of midseason rumors that he was headed to Cleveland in February at the trading deadline, Shaquille O'Neal says another team also was trying to land him -- the Portland Trail Blazers.
O'Neal says he vetoed the potential trade to Portland in a conversation with Suns GM Steve Kerr, who this week dealt Shaq to the Cavaliers in exchange for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a second-round pick in next year's draft and $500,000.
"During the middle of the season, Steve said Portland was interested," said O'Neal. "He said was I interested in going to Portland? I told him no, so he stopped that."
The Blazers, however, are adamant that they didn't try to trade for Shaq in February. "Why would we when we've got Greg (Oden) developing and we've already got (Joel) Przybilla?" said a Blazers official who asked to remain anonymous. "If were in go-for-it mode, maybe we would be more interested."
For his part, Shaq insists he was told that Portland was offering the expiring contract of Raef LaFrentz in a package for him. He made the point while congratulating Kerr for being straightforward and direct in their conversations.
"He did it 1,000 percent professional," said O'Neal. "Steve Kerr was very honest."
During their midseason conversations Kerr never raised the possibility of a trade with Cleveland, according to O'Neal, who said he asked Kerr to not deal him to Portland because the Blazers weren't close to winning a championship.
"They have a young team, and their team is pretty good the way it is," O'Neal said of the Blazers. "When he called me, he didn't mention (Cleveland). He said, 'Portland is really making the move for you.' And I said, `I don't really want to go to Portland."'