Sun Burnt – Kerr Brings Shaq To The Desert

7 02 2008

Well hell, I was pretty sure that eventually reality would kick in and Steve Kerr would obtain a moment of clarity and realise
“What the hell was I thinking?”…
Shaq heads to the desertand Shaquille O’Neal would ‘fail’ his physical. 

But no. 
Yahoo Sport reports that O’Neal passed his physical, and he’s now a Sun.  The Suns official site has a piece up too, declaring their joyous signing.

As the trade deadline approaches later this month, we’ve seen two huge deals go down in the past week. 
Pau Gasol is dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers for what amounts to chump-change, and the Big Aristotle goes to Phoenix in an absolute head-scratcher, for the Suns best defensive player. 
And the reason given? 
Defense…
Go figure.

No way in hell does O’Neal’s presence make the Suns a better defensive unit, and to be honest I feel they lose defensively on two fronts:
1/ The loss of Marion will be felt on ‘D’, as he’s clearly their best rebounder, and often it’s his pass post rebound that goes to Nash, and starts the fast break.
2/ Subtraction by addition. O’Neal’s hasn’t exactly been known over the past few years for his ‘defensive prowess’.  His presence is there primarily to guard against the other bigs that roam the Western conference… and whilst he is a big body, is he still strong enough to guard Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Andrew Bynum or Carlos Boozer?  No-one’s doubting that in his prime – yes.  But now?  And forget about guarding the finesse bigs like Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol – even at his peak, talls who stretch the floor were difficult for Shaq… and that was when he was relatively mobile. 
Additionally, Shawn Marion’s presence on the offensive end (he was fast enough to be able to get to the opponent’s hoop) meant that he was able to get points off misses and broken plays.  Forget about that with O’Neal.

Suns fans are angry, other fans are incredulous, stupefied, amazed.  This seems like the most improbable of all match-ups: the Suns fast & frenetic offense paired with the lumbering O’Neal.  It never bodes well when a signing forces a team to change what was a very successful game style mid-season.

High-flyin’ Shawn MarionPat Riley has to be ecstatic. 
This probably equates to his not walking out on the team midway through this season, and he has to be hailed as brilliant in this signing.  In my book, almost the equivalent of Kupchak stealing signing Gasol for Kwame Brown.  At least in Kerr’s defense, O’Neal was at one time one of the 50 best ever. 
Still, both deals would be vetoed by the commish if even attempted in a fantasy league.  In obtaining the high-flying Marion, Riley has a player who can run the floor with Wade, lend vital support to Haslem… and even if Marion walks after his contract expires, then that’s just money off the books for the Heat. 
It’s clearly a win/win situation for Miami.

As a Laker fan, I am bamboozled by this trade. Even up until the last seconds before O’Neal passed his physical, I was sure it was going to fall through. But no. Steve Kerr is satisfied to consign his charges to ‘ordinary’… massive changes will have to occur in Phoenix for this to have a semblance of a championship caliber team.
I don’t see it happening.
In trying to win it all, the Suns Front Office has lost any chance of doing so.

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7 responses

7 02 2008
fouledout

bad move for the suns.. if they needed a legit center, they should have made a push for younger athletic centers. Shaq s a thing of the past and he will never ever fit into the run and gun style of phoenix..
and yeah, pat riley must be ecstatic..

7 02 2008
withmalice

It’s going to necessitate a drastic change of philosophy by the Suns.
Never a good idea to undertake doing that mid-season.

7 02 2008
fouledout

@ WM
especially if you are winning.. you cannot risk to change your style mid way into the season.. there’s going to be a LOT of adjustments on all the parties involved..

8 02 2008
Aaron Becker

This trade may turn out better than what the consensus thinks.

8 02 2008
withmalice

For Miami – no doubt.

Going to be putting up a piece soon – I’ll answer that in greater depth…

16 02 2008
jason

the two bigs you mentioned as mobile unfortunately play the power forward spot for their teams….the player amare would be covering. in fact carlos is also a power forward, utah’s center is mehmet okur, somebody shaq could easily dominate in the post even in his declining state.

i don’t doubt that marion will be missed, especially his rebounding, but pheonix doesn’t have size, and guess what, the project failed, they have yet to reach the NBA finals since putting the nash team together. amare is their biggest presence and i’ve seen him time and again get out of a bigs way to avoid contact, and is almost never in good position for pretty much anything defensively, which is why they had to rely so heavily on marion for rebounding. shaq is old, he’s run down, but he’s big and he won’t be moving. they needed a presence on the inside, they got one.

i think this makes them a championship contender if shaq stays healthy. email me if/when pheonix gets eliminated and i’ll come back to eat my words.

16 02 2008
withmalice

Err…
Amare couldn’t cover a sleeping baby with a blanket.
So, how have Phoenix dealt with that in the past? Partially, Marion helped. And generally they suffered.
So, to deal with a defensive deficit they deal their best defensive player to get a guy who is a) overpaid, b) overweight, c) underperformed, d) cannot get 8 rebounds a night – in the East.
Shaq cover Mehmet Okur? You’re kidding, right? Okur’s exactly the sought of center Shaq has always struggled to contend with – a center who can play offense away from the basket.

The amazing thing over all this is that the Suns dealt for Shaq to be something that he hasn’t been for many, many years – not even by the end of his time at LA LA. A defensive player.

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