Across the nation, pundits and prognosticators have eulogized the Los Angeles Lakers' dynasty since news broke on Saturday that the club agreed to trade Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat.
"Over," is how Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times opened his Sunday column. "The Lakers you knew and loved, who won three titles and drove you crazy, are no more."
In Miami, the media banged drums and trumpeted the coming of a new age in local professional sports.
"The Miami Heat just pulled off the biggest trade in South Florida sports history," crowed Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard.
The teams are waiting until Wednesday, when the NBA's two-week moratorium on trades and free agent signings ends, before finalizing the deal. Under the terms of the agreement, Miami has agreed to send Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and Caron Butler to Los Angeles for O'Neal.
Fallout from the trade has included a public bashing of the Lakers' management.
Critics of the deal question why the Lakers traded away the most dominating center in the game the past decade without receiving in return Miami's most promising player, rookie guard Dwyane Wade.
"Shaquille O'Steal," Le Batard wrote. "This is staggering, unfathomable, your-mouth-should-hang-open-all-day-today news. What Miami just did is somehow land what might be the biggest superstar in all of sports without even giving up an All-Star."
It has been presumed that the Lakers unloaded O'Neal at a discount in their haste to appease Kobe Bryant, a free agent this season and one of O'Neal's most outspoken critics. Bryant could jump to another franchise as soon as Wednesday.
With O'Neal nearly out the door, the Lakers have begun looking for his replacement at center. They team has even spoken with 36-year-old Vlade Divac, who played seven seasons with the team after the club drafted him in 1989.
"The Lakers are definitely interested," said Marc Fleisher, Divac's agent. "I've had discussions with [Lakers general manager] Mitch Kupchak, who is a close personal friend of Vlade's, a player the team obviously knows well."
Divac, a 7-1, 260-pound center, has a reputation for being an unselfish passer and skilled shooter who averaged 9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game while playing for the Sacramento Kings this past season.
As for Divac's durability as he heads into his 16th year in the NBA, he has played no fewer than 80 games in each of the past five seasons. By comparison, O'Neal has played in no more than 67 games over the last three seasons.
Divac has also brought the Lakers luck in the past. The team traded him to the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 for the draft rights to Bryant.
Medvedenko on the Market?
Stanislav Medvedenko is another big man the Lakers may have to replace. The 6-10 power forward is a free agent being pursued by several other teams, according to Fleisher, who also represents Medvedenko.
NBA teams are paying a premium for skilled big men right now, which makes it a good time for post players to test their value on the open market.
Mehmet Okur, one of the Detroit Pistons' top reserves last season, has received a six-year offer from the Utah Jazz, reportedly worth more than $42 million. The Pistons will likely not match the offer.
Free agent centers Mark Blount (Boston Celtics) and Adonal Foyle (Golden State Warriors) have also agreed to large contracts recently.