Shaq in Miami?

Updated: July 9, 2004, 3:24 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Pat Riley jumped ship too early. After watching his beloved Heat -- a team he thought would contend for a title until Alonzo Mourning went down with an illness -- descend into the lottery, Riley had had enough.

Rookies like Caron Butler and Dwyane Wade were nice additions. Lamar Odom had tons of potential. But Riley was weary of losing. A week into training camp last fall, with Butler out indefinitely with an injury, Riley wasn't seeing many positives. He couldn't bear it any longer.

Riley quit. Stan Van Gundy stepped in. And the Heat became the surprise team in the East last year. Led by a reborn Odom and a Rookie of the Year-caliber performance by Wade, the Heat were, no pun intended, the hottest team in the East as the playoffs began.

Now Riley is getting restless. A year ago he saw lottery. This year he sees championship. Shaquille O'Neal is on the block, and from all accounts, Riley is making a run at him.

"I mean Tracy McGrady got traded, he was on the market," Riley told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I've heard three or four other great-name players that are on the market, Shaq being one of 'em. You've got to pursue 'em. You're foolish if you don't try to pursue 'em and at least listen. Nothing's happened. Everything right now is so premature."

Could the Heat land Shaq? Are they willing to blow up their young team to get him? Here's a look at what to expect as Insider continues its summer blueprint series.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer