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Eastern Conference trades begin

ESPN the Magazine‘s Ric Bucher [1] has reported the Miami Heat [2] have agreed to trade Shawn Marion [3] and former Boston Celtic Marcus Banks to the Toronto Raptors [4] in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal [5] and Jamario Moon. According to Bucher, the deal is pending league approval and would be announced Friday afternoon if it goes through.

So what could this mean for the Celtics [6]?

This move could get the Raptors back to the playoffs, potentially as a first round match up for the Celtics. Even though they have the second worst record in the East (21-34), they are only five games out of the eighth spot. The problem was O’Neal could not figure out how to play a secondary role to Chris Bosh (as he told WEEI.com in November [7]). Rather than clogging the post, Marion can spread the floor with his outside shot. This balances the Raptors lineup, one that certainly has the potential to make a push in the East.

The Heat (28-24) currently hold the fifth spot in the East. The addition of O’Neal gives them the big body they have been missing since Shaq left and a reliable option for Dwyane Wade [8] to find down low. Suddently the Heat have a solid 1-2 punch.

The Celtics swept the Raptors 4-0 this season. They are 1-0 against the Heat and will face them next on March 11 in Miami.