MIAMI (AP) – Shaquille O’Neal is prepared for the Miami Heat to trade him, a confidant of the 14-time All-Star center told The Associated Press on Tuesday night.

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.

The Miami Herald reported earlier Tuesday that the Heat are in “serious and ongoing” trade negotiations with the Phoenix Suns. A Heat spokesman said the team had no comment, and several Suns officials didn’t immediately return phone calls from The AP.

The Herald report said the Suns would send Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami in exchange for O’Neal, who is averaging a career-low 14.2 points and has been sidelined for the past two weeks by a lingering hip injury.

When asked last week about another report that a Shaq trade was possible, Heat coach Pat Riley said, “Not true.”

It isn’t known if O’Neal – who has two full seasons remaining after this one on his $100 million, five-year contract – would welcome a trade.

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, entered Tuesday with a 11/2-game lead over New Orleans and Dallas in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.

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 111/2 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.

The team said he was undergoing another MRI exam on Tuesday, presumably to further determine the extent of the injury, and O’Neal didn’t speak before leaving Miami’s practice. The Heat play at Detroit 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 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 then. He is 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.

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