The Orlando Magic won the Eastern Conference title by handling everything that LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers threw at them on the court.
The Magic started an early defense of their conference supremacy on Thursday by trying to match the Cavaliers in a battle of blockbuster draft-day trades.
Hours after Cleveland acquired Shaquille O'Neal from Phoenix to play alongside King James, Orlando made big splash of its own by acquiring Vince Carter from the New Jersey Nets in a deal that will bring the eight-time All Star back home to Florida.
"Every player hopes for an opportunity like this, to just once compete for an NBA championship," the 32-year-old Carter said. "This a dream come true for me. Now I have a chance to win a championship."
The Magic lost to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the NBA finals.
The trade gives the Magic another star in a lineup that already includes center Dwight Howard and forward Rashard Lewis. The deal, which sent point guard Rafer Alston, shooting guard Courtney Lee and power forward Tony Battie to New Jersey, might also convince swingman Hedo Turkoglu, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent on July 1, to remain with the Magic.
Orlando is hoping Carter, who has averaged 23.5 points over a 10-year pro career, will provide Howard with a perimeter scorer who can create his own shot _ something they lacked against the Lakers.
"Vince gives us a veteran, go-to scoring presence, especially at the end of games," said Orlando general manager Otis Smith, who also got forward Ryan Anderson in the deal. "Our goal remains the same _ to win a championship. Any time you can add an All-Star to help you reach your goals, you have to do it."
After winning a franchise-record 66 games, the Cavaliers thought they would be the ones representing the Eastern Conference. However, they could not contain Howard and company in losing the conference final in six games.
So the Cavs rocked the NBA early Thursday and acquired the 37-year-old O'Neal, a 15-time All Star who is in his waning years but who desperately wants a fifth title. He also would match up defensively against Howard.
The big gain for New Jersey is $18 million in salary cap room for the 2010-11 season, when James, Wade, Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire can test the market.
"I think everyone here is sad because everybody liked Vince," Nets president Rod Thorn said Thursday night. "But the reality of the situation is we have to do what is best for our franchise and move on from there."
In other major Thursday trades:
_ The Atlanta Hawks acquired guard Jamal Crawford from the Golden State Warriors for guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton.
_ Denver traded a future first-round draft pick to Minnesota for the rights to North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson, who the Timberwolves had selected at No. 18.
_ The Knicks traded swingman Quentin Richardson and cash to Memphis for center Darko Milicic, and also acquired the rights to Toney Douglas, the No. 29 pick, from the Lakers for cash and a future second-round pick.
_ The Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks swapped their draft picks from late in the first round. The Thunder will get 7-foot center B.J. Mullens from Ohio State for point guard Rodrigue Beaubois from Guadaloupe, plus a future second-round pick.
_ In a draft that was not considered deep, several teams swapped their second-round picks for cash or future draft choices.
Besides clearing cap space, the Nets get a solid backup for point guard Devin Harris in Alston and a talent who showed flashes of stardom in Lee.
Lee, a rookie from Western Kentucky last season, was a late first-round pick in 2008 and turned out to be one of the Magic's few bright spots in recent drafts. Lee started 42 games and was a solid contributor for the Magic last season, averaging 8.4 points per game.
With Jameer Nelson already named the starting point guard for next season, the team was looking to move Alston _ and his $5.25 million contract that ends after next season.
The Magic's biggest cost-cutting move is parting ways with the 33-year-old Battie, who will make $6.2 million next season in the final year of his contract.
Carter's departure ends the era of the Nets' Big Three. Point guard Jason Kidd was traded to Dallas early in 2008 and Richard Jefferson was dealt to Milwaukee on draft day a year ago for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons.
A few hours after trading Carter, the Nets used the 11th pick in the draft to select Terrence Williams, a versatile 6-foot-6 small forward from Louisville.
AP Sports Writers Tim Reynolds in Miami and Tom Withers in Cleveland, and Associated Press Writer Antonio Gonzalez in Orlando and contributed to this report.