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Rumor Mill: Suns Discussed Shawn Marion for AK-47?

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Both AZCentral and East Valley Tribune came out today with articles saying that the Suns and the Utah Jazz discussed a Shawn Marion for Andrei Kirilenko trade last month. Paul Coro also has a blog entry on the subject stating that "this is fact", although the blog entry as well as both of the aforementioned articles make it clear that the discussion consisted of a phone call in early August and nothing more since. So, for the moment, I'm writing it off as a trade idea that went nowhere. However, since we've just about taken the Amare vs. the Bobcats topic as far as we can, we need a new quasi-controversial subject to bat around for a while. So, here are my thoughts:

First, if this was a Marion for AK-47 straight-up deal, then I hate it if for no other reason than we would be trading a durable player who hardly ever misses a game for a guy who has missed at least a dozen in each of the past three seasons. Maybe he would have better luck with the Suns' medical staff, but it just seems like a pretty big risk. We would also be exchanging a guy who consistently puts up a solid double-double for a guy coming off a season that was, by all accounts, awful. Maybe it would end up being the perfect "buy low" situation, but there are no guarantees. Lastly, we would be trading a max contract that's due to expire in a couple of years for one that's almost as big and not due to expire until 2011. We would get some salary (and luxury tax) relief in the short term because AK's contract is about $2.7 million less than Marion's this year, and the savings would be doubled when luxury tax is considered. But long term, it would likely necessitate more moves in the name of fiscal prudence.

So, why would the Suns even consider a deal like this when their justification for every fan-infuriating move this summer has supposedly been for the sake of keeping the team's core together? I can think of three possibilities, two of them bad, and one that might make the deal a bit more palatable:

  1. Perhaps the occasional "Marion is unhappy with his role" has devolved into "Marion is so unhappy he wants out"?
  2. Perhaps Robert Sarver is so determined to avoid luxury tax at all cost that he considers the $2.7M difference in salary between the two players to be worth it?
  3. Perhaps the trade also offered a means to get rid of Marcus Banks' contract, while getting back something useful in return?

If it's the first option...well, I really hope it's not the first option. But if it is, then I guess this would be an exchange of disgruntled employees, each hoping the grass is greener on the other side. I would still hate it, but it would probably be better for all parties involved to move on. And with Kevin Garnett no longer a possibility, I'm really not sure who the Suns could trade for that would replace any more of what Shawn does for the team than a healthy and motivated AK-47 could--plus he's three years younger to boot. But I really hope it hasn't come to this. On the other hand, if this is just about avoiding the luxury tax, I'm not sure that makes it much better from a fan's perspective. So, let's just hope if something like this ends up actually happening, that it's done in a way that helps the Suns on the basketball court as much or more than in the pocketbook. Because, that's about the only thing I can think of that would make this deal any less difficult to stomach, and even then, it would still be a sad day for Suns fans to see the team's longest-tenured player sent away.

In other news, the Suns are holding auditions for the remaining open roster spot, according to East Valley Tribune. One lucky winner will be signed to a non-guaranteed contract (just in case P.J. Brown decides to come, I guess). The contestants for tomorrow are Elton Brown ("Brown", not "Brand", and no relation to P.J. either as far as I know), Vitaly Potapenko, and Michael Ruffin. I don't know much about any of these players, but it's hard to imagine one of them coming close to replacing what Kurt Thomas brought to the team. Other than that, since I'm in a bit of a grouchy mood over the Marion-Kirilenko rumor, I'm going to leave this one for you all to discuss in the comments.

Poll

Should the Suns trade Shawn Marion for Andrei Kirilenko?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Absolutely no way under any circumstances!
    (49 votes)
  • 10%
    Only if Shawn asked to be traded.
    (13 votes)
  • 22%
    Only if the Suns could also get rid of Banks in exchange for a useful player from the Jazz.
    (27 votes)
  • 25%
    Sure! I'd do this deal straight-up in a heartbeat.
    (30 votes)
119 votes total Vote Now