- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

From combined dispatches

Shaquille O’Neal and all the other big names stayed put on trade deadline day Thursday, with owners perhaps scared of making moves that added salary in an uncertain economic climate.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were among the suitors that reportedly reached out to Phoenix to inquire about O’Neal, but they couldn’t close a deal for him or any other big man they sought to battle defending NBA champion Boston.

Amare Stoudemire and Vince Carter were among the other stars who had space on the rumor mill in recent weeks but went nowhere, with teams having to balance a player’s impact on the court with his effect on the wallet.

“If anybody hasn’t figured out that the economy is hitting every company in the country and in the world, they’re not very bright,” Dallas owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday. “Of course it’s hitting everybody, and everybody has to be considerate of it.”

The Suns were believed to be one of the teams considering financially based moves during a disappointing season. But after Phoenix fired Terry Porter on Monday and scored 140 points in consecutive wins under new coach Alvin Gentry, owner Robert Sarver gave the go-ahead to keep the team together.

“We could have made moves to save money, and given the economy and our payroll that would have been understandable,” general manager Steve Kerr said. “But he stepped up and allowed us to move forward with what we have.”

The only top contender to make an upgrade was Orlando, which landed Rafer Alston from Houston in a three-team deal that also included Memphis. The Magic needed a point guard to replace All-Star Jameer Nelson, who has a potentially season-ending shoulder injury.


• The Chicago Bulls traded unhappy guard Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson. Chicago also traded guard Thabo Sefolosha to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2009 first-round draft pick.

• The Knicks also acquired Chris Wilcox from Oklahoma City for Malik Rose and cash considerations in a swap of forwards with expiring contracts.

• The Minnesota Timberwolves shipped Rashad McCants and center Calvin Booth to Sacramento for forward Shelden Williams and point guard Bobby Brown.

The Kings continued their salary cap purge with their third trade in a week. Sacramento sent Brad Miller and John Salmons to the Bulls on Wednesday for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons. The Kings immediately sent Ruffin to Portland for Ike Diogu and cash.

SPURS: Manu Ginobili will be sidelined two to three weeks with a stress reaction in his right ankle.

The team announced the injury to Ginobili’s right distal fibula, saying it was diagnosed after X-rays, an MRI and a CAT scan. It’s not the same ankle that Ginobili had surgery on after the Olympics, forcing him to miss the first 12 games of the season.

RATINGS: Final television ratings showed a big increase in viewership for the NBA All-Star Game.

The game in Phoenix on Sunday night, featuring a Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal reunion, earned a 4.5 national rating on TNT, the network said. That’s up 17 percent from last year.

The game was watched by more than 7.6 million people.

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