One year (and a couple of weeks) later, the Phoenix Suns have become Shaq's team. Except they haven't. Or maybe some days they are. Then they aren't. It's like the weather in the mid-west, if you don't like the answer just wait five minutes and it will change. Again.
And that's the story of the huge Marion for Shaq trade one-year (and a couple of weeks) later.
All the talk about Shaq's health, Shaq's contract and Shaq's restraining orders, what it comes down to is the fundamental and as yet unanswered question: Can Shaq fit into the Suns system or can the Suns system successfully fit around Shaq?
Fortunately for us though it is much more complex then all that and so we've assembled the finest minds from the NBA blogosphere (by finest I mean the ones kind enough to respond) to delve into the biggest trade to hit the Suns since the Chuckster arrived.
We asked our panelists three simple questions and sat back while the genius poured in. Now we are pleased to share the opinion of the opinionerati with you.
Meet your bloggers
Before we begin with today's agenda, lets go around the table and introduce everyone:
From our own Bright Side of the Sun we have ZonaFlash, Dustin aka watdogg10 and Mike Lisboa (boring name, Mike)
Joining us as our guests are:
Brett Pollakoff from AOL Fanhouse
Matt Moore from Hardwood Paroxysm
Tuffy from Sports by Brooks and Blog Talk Radio
Tas Melas from The Basketball Jones
Clipper Steve from Clips Nation
Michael Schwartz from Valley of the Suns ESPN True Hoop blog
Thank you everyone for your participation in this most earnest and sincere of blogoendeavors.
Let the opinions flow
We asked three questions and being bloggers got a mix of responses that either follow or didn't follow the specific directions. Bloggers generally don't like to be confined to little boxes or simple questions so this wasn't a surprise.
Here's the three questions and sampling of the responses (be sure to click the links to see the full answers from each respondent)
1) Shaq came to the Suns and had an undeniable impact. How do you think it's worked out so far?
Also undeniably impactful: meteorites. Wildly entertaining, too, but I wouldn't want something I care about to be within the blast zone when it lands, like my ballclub. (Plus, both are almost completely immobile once they smack terra firma.)However, it's certainly helped the Tempe Police Reserve to have one more volunteer as long as Jason Richardson's allowed to drive in the Valley, no?
It's been one year since Shaq arrived and, you know, on the court we're not necessarily better. I think it would be hard to say we're much worse. We are different and with that there's hope. Handling the offense is going to take a lot of experimentation, as it has.
Imagine moving in a new giant full-sized sectional into your living room. You're gonna have to find the best way to fit it in. Same thing with Shaq in the paint!
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....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.
The Shaq trade literally caused a full revolution (in the 360° sense of the word) in the Phoenix Suns’ game plan.The tragedy of the trade is the complete disintegration of Shawn Marion’s stature as a player. The SSOL system played to all his strengths (his athleticism, ball-hawking, perimeter defense and finishing) while masking his weaknesses (no handle, creating his own shot, inability to function in a half-court set, and lack of a reliable jumper). He’s a gazelle and, baby, he was born to run.
The trade, also initially called "the Amare Stoudemire project" (or ASP) didn't bring a championship last year (or just as important, help us beat the Spurs in the playoffs), it ultimately drove D'Antoni out and the ASP has become the "revitalize Shaq's career and reputation project" (or RSCPP).
On paper, it seemed ridiculous to try to mesh an aging and broken Shaquille O'Neal with the 7SOL Phoenix Suns. I mean, how could that possibly work out, right? As it turns out, it hasn't -- so far. But honestly, it wasn't that bad of an idea.
If Shaq's still putting out 30 point games in the playoffs, especially against Duncan (since apparently that's all Phoenix fans care about, beating San Antonio), then yeah, it's brilliant. That's the thing. We know they're not winning a title. They're just not. So by that standard, it has to be a mistake.
But the great thing about it is that Shaq's personality, payroll, and PR image means that it can't be blamed on him. If he plays well and they lose, then it's because his teammates didn't step up. "Shaq did everything he could!" If he doesn't play well and they lose, his teammates still didn't step up.
How has it worked out? It hasn't. The Suns didn't make it past the 5th game of the playoffs last season.
The team didn't have Shaq for the full year in '07-'08 so you have to give them at least one more season to make it work. Midway through that season, his coach gets fired - definitely not Shaq's fault, but Stoudemire's injury was!
Now, the only way Shaq and the Suns can make this trade a successful one is if they make a long playoff run, and I'm talking NBA Finals.
Consensus mashup of the views is...
The trade has all the impact of a meteorite dropping into onto your living room couch but we are still waiting to see for sure how it will really turn out but in the mean time it's been better then expected except that it really hurt Shawn Marion which is painful but don't forget that it didn't result in beating the Spurs even though you can't blame Shaq for that or anything else and in the end the Suns had better win now. Right now.
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)?
So would I do the trade over again? Absolutely. Let’s not forget we also dumped Marcus Banks’ albatross of a contract in the process of bringing in the Big Cactus.
Would I trade Shawn Marion? Absolutely. I argued for it before it happened. Marion was a malcontent who thought he could be "The Man" with an option-expiring contract.
Would I trade him for a 36 year old $40 million investment with conditioning issues who fits but NOT AT ALL with the rest of our team which is built on speed? Yeah, not so much.
If I could go back, I would definitely reverse the trade.
Steve Kerr may not agree with that, but when he fired Porter, he made the decision that the uptempo game is where the Suns butter their bread. Kerr would tell you Shaq could be a part of that and that's difficult to argue with the show he's putting on right now.
Only if I could also have the power to have Mike D'Antoni still in the head coach's seat. But Alvin Gentry seems to be doing his bidding anyway, so right now, (except for Amare's injury) things are going pretty much as initially planned.
The problem with the '07-'08 Suns was never the petulance of Shawn Marion. Remember when Kobe absolutely positively had to be traded and the Bulls were absolutely the best home for him, bar none? Marion doesn't move at the trade deadline and he sucks it up. He never had the stamina for a Vince Carter-style Operation Shutdown.
Now, the trade looks pretty good with Shaq a legitimate All-Star and Marion grassing around in loservilles of bottom-feeding Toronto and Miami.
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.
No. People tend to forget that when the trade went down last year we were in first place.
Yes it was a shaky first place and yes the Lakers were gifted Pau Gasol, but it was first place all the same.
I would have liked to see them give it one more shot with that core.
I would not have done the deal at the time, nor would I do it in hindsight.
Here's the thing... when you're the Suns, and you've gone deep into the Western Conference playoffs three straight years without emerging, you either have to take the next step, or you have to start over because Steve Nash isn't getting any younger. Of course, that was Kerr's thinking at the time he acquired Shaq as well - he chose to take one big gamble on breaking through during the Nash era. But it didn't work last season (when the Suns exited the playoffs in the first round) and it probably isn't going to work this season either.
Consensus mashup of the views is...
would you do the deal again..
Yes. No. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. No. No.
The No's have it 6 - 3.
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)?
Well, since it looks like Elton Brand was capable of being coaxed out of LA, and since the Phoenix training staff would giggle at Lazarus and sey they could do better (and could), I'd aim for what I argued at that point for Marion. A series of role players, one to two with size and rebounding (who aren't capable of killing someone with a poorly aimed crowd dive- seriously, he's going to squash a toddler one of these times), and a backup point guard who's at least capable of running the offense while Nash rests his back.
Knowing what I know now about everyone's desperate need to clear space to survive the drop in the cap (especially Bob Sarver, who ordered the house staff 18 months ago to rifle through all the copies of Monopoly in his houses and cover the luxury tax spaces with Suns stickers), I might have held Marion and let him walk this summer.
I would have put Marion on program covers, got media members to interview him pre, mid and post game, sent my kid to jump on his leg and never let go, etcetera.
Marion is an extrmemely special fit for the uptempo system that you just don't find very often and I would have done everything in my power to make him happy, which means give him the pub his ego demands.
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
Looking back at the trade, it’s almost impossible to deny the Suns got the better of this deal. A revitalized Shaq coupled with a revitalized Suns squad hell-bent on scorching their way into the playoffs and making life miserable for their first round opponent is almost enough to make Steve Kerr look like... a genius?
Consensus mashup of the views is...
Instead of trading Marion for Shaq the Suns should have gone after Elton Brand or another rebounding big or a point guard and role players but barring that cap space is nice or better yet just never let Shawn go by resigning him to a cheap 1 year deal and if that all doesn't work just trade him for Shaq.
Thank you again to everyone that participated. I hope that cleared everything up. It certainly did for me. Then it didn't....