by Marcel Mutoni

Shaquille O’Neal has done little to downplay the rumor that he is interested in joining the Dallas Mavericks – or at the very least, leaving Phoenix this summer – as he blasted the guy who currently signs his checks, and showered Mark Cuban with praise.

For his part, however, Cuban did his best to squelch the trade talk. The Star Telegram and ESPN grabbed the owner’s reaction:

“Shaq and I, like Phil Jackson, would always have these fun verbal sparring matches,” Cuban said. “People thought Shaq and I were madly in love and we haven’t even dated. A tweet is not a date. “I don’t tweet and tell.” As for O’Neal becoming a Maverick, Cuban reiterated that the notion is an extreme long shot.

Said Cuban of an O’Neal trade: “You never say never because it’s such a crazy league. But you can say that about any player in the NBA.”

Why do I get the feeling that Shaq wants to leave Phoenix and join the Mavs a little more than Cuban does?