MIAMI (AP) -Shaquille O'Neal is prepared for the Miami Heat to trade him, a confidant of the 14-time All-Star told The Associated Press on Tuesday night, and the Phoenix Suns were poised to deal two players for the center.
O'Neal's associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal anything publicly, indicated a move could be imminent.
``Shaq thinks something will happen,'' the associate said.
It could be happening soon.
O'Neal was planning to be in Phoenix on Wednesday, which, according to several reports, is when the Suns plan to have him take a physical - presumably the final roadblock before the deal that will send Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami gets finalized.
eal could be imminent and that O'Neal had contacted some Suns players Tuesday night.
A Heat spokesman said the team had no comment, and several Suns officials didn't immediately return phone calls from the AP. The Suns did, however, push their morning shootaround practice back seven hours, perhaps because of the uncertainty over the O'Neal situation. Phoenix plays New Orleans on Wednesday night.
When asked last week about another report that a Shaq trade was possible, Heat coach Pat Riley said, ``Not true.''
But when the Los Angeles Lakers struck a deal with Memphis last week for 7-footer Pau Gasol and instantly strengthened their lineup, there's been constant speculation about how other Western Conference teams would respond.
And a Shaq-to-the-Suns deal would certainly create plenty of buzz.
``Really?'' said the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, O'Neal's former teammate, when told of the apparently pending deal. ``I know he likes the warm weather.''
O'Neal has two full seasons remaining after this one on his $100 million, five-year contract, and is averaging a career-low 14.2 points this season. If the trade goes through as currently detailed, the Heat would have to make an additional roster move in order to stay at the 15-man limit.
ame with at least five rings.
If he's going to get No. 5 this year, he'd have to go elsewhere.
The Heat have lost 19 of their last 20 games and have the NBA's worst record at 9-37 - meaning the 2006 NBA champions are almost a lock to miss the postseason. Phoenix, meanwhile, has the best record in the Western Conference at 34-14.
To this point, O'Neal's year has been largely forgettable.
Miami's record has plummeted, O'Neal is going through a divorce and his scoring average is nearly 11 1/2 points below his 25.6 career mark. He suffered a bruised hip on Dec. 22 and has missed four of the past five weeks while trying to recover.
It's his second straight difficult season: O'Neal missed much of the 2006-07 campaign with a knee injury and finished that year with career lows in games (40), scoring (17.3 points), rebounds (7.4), minutes (28.4) and free-throw percentage (.422).
``There were a lot of problems last year, but whenever you start talking about your problems, it turns into excuses,'' O'Neal told the AP in October. ``And I've never made an excuse. So you won't ever hear me mention it again, unless, of course, you ask me. But there were a lot of problems last year.''
Some problems are still there.
oit on Wednesday.
Last Friday, O'Neal said he and Riley have not discussed any trade possibilities.
``He hasn't spoken to me,'' O'Neal said at the time. ``He hasn't talked about it. I've been in the league 15 years. I've seen it all, been through it all. I've just got to sit back.''
Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said on his weekly radio show on Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix on Tuesday night that the story caught him by surprise.
``The trade deadline's coming up, so I'm sure there's talk all over the place,'' he said. ``In our day and age now, you make one of those phone calls or answer a phone call everybody in the world knows about it. Other than normal business, I don't know anything that's going on.''
Asked if any deal was close, D'Antoni said, ``No, no, no.''
Marion asked to be traded before the season began, but has avoided talk of the subject since. He's set to make $17 million next season, the final year of his contract, but can opt out of the deal and become a free agent.
Suns owner Robert Sarver said two weeks ago that none of the core players would be traded this season.
Neither Sarver nor Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr returned messages left on their cell phones.
AP sports writer Bob Baum in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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