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Saturday, 3 July 2004

LOS ANGELES--Stunning league observers who expected the Dallas Mavericks to be Diesel's new home, the Los Angeles Lakers have traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Sacramento Kings. In return, the Lakers will receive California's capitol city and a suburb to be named later. The trade adds a new chapter to the NBA's most bitter and heretofore utterly one-sided rivalry.

"This is a wonderful day for the Kings franchise and the city of Sacramento," said Kings' owner Gavin Maloof. "We got the most dominant player in league history without losing a roster player, and you have to admit that this redneck backwater can use some L.A. flavah, yo."

O'Neal said he accepted the trade after receiving a guarantee that he would never, ever have to hear those annoying cowbells at Arco Arena again. "Hey, it could have been the Warriors," said the Big Aristotle. "And that would have, like, sucked."

He pledged to be ready for training camp, no small task given that he has reportedly gained 150 lbs. since the conclusion of the NBA finals last month.

Salaries exchanged between NBA teams in a trade must be within 15%. When asked how the league determined that the city of Sacramento's value was within 15% of O'Neal's 2004/05 stipend of $27.6 million, NBA commissioner David Stern replied, "Have you been to Sacramento? There's nothing there. Just ask C-Webb."

The aforementioned C-Webb, Kings' power forward Chris Webber, was also elated at the news. "Finally, I can disappear at crunch time in a playoff game and we'll still have a chance to win. And it'll be great to have a teammate who's a worse free-throw shooter than me."

When asked what he intended to do with his trade booty, Lakers' GM Mitch Kupchack said he would most likely trade Sacramento to a team in the Eastern Conference. "With the uncertainty surrounding Kobe, we really need an experienced shooting guard."

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