Shaquille O’Neal was welcomed to town Sunday with a star-studded party that included sports celebrities and Average Joes looking to rub elbows with them.
O’Neal arrived in an SUV at 11:15 p.m. as fans cheered on the sidewalks and took pictures of him and other celebrities who joined the party. Shaquille’s first impression of Cleveland was a good one:
“It’s a nice town,” he said. “The entertainment is already here. Everything is here. The Browns are here, LeBron is here and now I’m here.”
Fans lined up more than an hour outside The Barley House in the downtown Warehouse District for a chance to see Shaq. One fan was holding a life-size cardboard cutout of O’Neal in an Orlando Magic uniform.
Lebron James was a no-show, but Cavaliers teammates Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao hung out and partied with O’Neal.
“This is going to be fun,” Williams said. “We got LeBron. We got Shaq. C’mon, what else you need?”
Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, boxing champion Kelly Pavlik, Cleveland Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs, several members of the Cleveland Indians, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu and former Cavs star Austin Carr walked the red carpet.
The Cavaliers have come to terms with Anderson Varejao, agent Dan Fegan said Wednesday.
Varejao is set to get six-years contract and worth as much as $50 million. According to Fegan, the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder were also interested in him and other potential sign-and-trade offers from other teams, but Varejao wanted to remain in Cleveland because “He feels there is unfinished business — to win an NBA championship.” Fegan said.
The Cavaliers are also close to signing Toronto’s guard Anthony Paker and the deal is expected to be completed in the next several days.
The Los Angeles Lakers are close to reaching an agreement with Houston forward Ron Artest, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Artest, an unrestricted free agent, is expected to agree to terms Thursday after spending the day meeting with Lakers executives.
In a text message to ESPN.com on Thursday night, Artest wrote: “I am happy to say I am goin’ to L.A.”
ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reports that Artest and the Lakers have reached a verbal agreement on what is believed to be a three-year contract worth an estimated $18 million. Wednesday is the first day free agents are permitted to sign new deals.
Artest was initially courted by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to other reports, the Cavaliers have interest in Trevor Ariza and Rasheed Wallace. However, it was reported that the Celtics sent the big three to meet with him (I am not sure if he is worth that much).
Also, according to Associated Press, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey met with the free agent in Las Vegas in hopes to recruit the Lakers forward to Houston.
Cavaliers options are not many at this point. They might look into a sign and trade for Wally Szczerbiak or Anderson Varejao.