Michael Schwartz from Valley of the Suns ESPN True Hoop blog
1) Shaq came to the Suns and had an undeniable impact. How do you think it's worked out so far?
It's worked out better than we could have expected. None of us knew how much gas Shaq had left in his tank, and I think putting up 45 and 33 back to back to go with an All-Star Game MVP trophy tells us there's a little more diesel fuel left. Last year, of course, they went 15-5 down the stretch and then had the misfortune of drawing a bad matchup against the Spurs and then the unfortunate Duncan bank shot, etc., etc. This year the Amare-Shaq pairing didn't work quite as well as expected, but the way things are now let me ask you this, would the Suns have won these past two games without Nash and Amare if Shawn Marion was their star instead of the Shaqtus? I think we all know the answer to that. It's taken about a year, including three and a half frustrating months of Terry Porter trying to change this team's identity, but the Suns have finally figured out how to be the Suns and accommodate Shaq with this so-called "Seven Seconds or Shaq" system. There certainly have been bumps in the road, but Steve Kerr might not have exactly earned a moron point for this one.
2) Knowing what you know now would you do the deal again (assuming you have that awesome power to make deals at all....and go back in time)?
With what I said in the last response notwithstanding, I would not do the deal. I wanted to see if the Suns could win a title in Seven Seconds or Less, and trading for a 325-pound behemoth fundamentally changed the way the Suns were. Of course they're returning to their old run and gun ways now, but using Shaq as a trailer makes this different from the system in which Amare and Marion were beating bigs down the floor night in and night out. The Suns weren't broke, so why fix them? Now you've got a team that we all are praying can just squeak into the playoffs. At the time of the deal the Suns were at the top of the West and had been for the three years before that. Add in all the bad luck from Joe Johnson's face to Raja's calf and Amare and Boris' suspensions, and there's plenty of reason not to upset the status quo. What Suns fan wouldn't go for an elite regular season with a shot to win it all with a bit of luck right now?
3) If you wouldn't have done this deal with Shaq, what would you have done with Marion (assuming again that anyone other then the rest of us listens to you)?
The toughest question of the bunch, I originally rationalized the deal as a means to ensure Marion wouldn't leave for nothing. I actually feared he would opt out, which seems ridiculous at this point. Marion had bitched and moaned for years, but it hadn't been an issue because the team was winning, so I wouldn't have been so concerned about moving him for that sake. If I'm Robert Sarver, I probably just let Marion's deal expire and get out of the luxury tax zone next year. If I'm not Robert Sarver, I look into re-signing him to a one-year contract at a sizable pay cut consistent with the depressed NBA market and give the D'Antoni Suns (if I had all this power, D'Antoni would still be around) a window that expires before the Summer of 2010, at which point I reload. I would also scour the trade market before this past deadline to see if I could get some kind of a steal with his expiring deal and possibly make my reloading move while staying competitive in the present.