|The Warriors and Suns square off at the Roaracle this Wednesday night. Sadly Shaq will most likely be sitting this one out (actually trust me- I'll get over it fast!). Wednesday night's game between the Warriors and Suns at the Roaracle should be a fun, fun game, but as you all know there's been some other big thangs poppin' over in the valley of the Sun recently. Luckily our friends srp and TexSUN from Bright Side of the Sun are here to help us sort through the madness.|
Break out your stunna shades for some extremely bright sunshine from BSofS after the jump!
Golden State of Mind: What are the pro's and con's of the recent blockbuster trade between the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat centering around Shaquille O'Neal and Shawn Marion for the Suns?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): The pro's and con's are as numbered as the cacti that line our dirt roads.
What was most interesting to watch though was how fast opinions changed. EVERYONE was totally against and instinctively opposed in the immediate aftermath of the bomb drop but Suns fans and local media very quickly came around helped with a full court press from the Suns PR team and Shaq's very charming and convincing on the mic performances.
As for specifics, here's my top ten reasons why this deal sucks (see #6): http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/story/2008/2/9/19938/87204.
For the pro's - this is more about what successful Shaq as a Sun might look like. Here's what I am looking for:
And of course without stating the obvious, the guy has to get and stay on the floor. "Other then that Mrs. Lincoln did you enjoy the play?"
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): Small-ball has now been replaced by "versatile-ball". At least I think that's what the Suns were going for here. The message they're sending is that it's more important to win a championship any which way you can than to be entertaining while doing so. I'm not at all surprised that fans have hastened to get on board after the initial shock wore off. The Suns might have won playing the small-ball style, but the Spurs have won with the more versatile approach and that big guy inside. I think the majority of Suns fans just want to get it done, even if it means capitulating a little to a more traditional style. 40 years without a ring is a long time. For the record, I hated this trade when it was first announced. At the moment, I'm somewhere between "resigned to it" and hopeful that this crazy idea might actually work.
- No more watching the smaller Suns leap around futilely reaching for the ball while bigger players pound them on the offensive glass.
- Players, fans, and the entire Suns organization seem to have been injected with new life by this deal. Joy in the workplace can lead to great success.
- I sure will miss the Matrix. He was a big part of what made the Suns so much fun to watch.
- The Suns will miss him too.
Golden State of Mind: Overall was it the right move for the Suns this season and the next?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): I say no. I don't even think that it's worth it even if the Suns win the ring this year. Here's why:
But I am definitely in the minority there. I don't see any way though that we don't look at the mountain of salary cap sitting on the bench next two years and wonder if there might not have been another way.
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): When news of this trade first came out, I thought it was nuts. For a good look at what my week was like as a Suns fan, see the right half of that box #6 srp mentioned in the previous question. That said, I'm one of those spoiled brat fans who thought the Suns needed a change to keep pace with a vastly-improving conference, and with all the reports about Marion wanting to leave, I was even sort of OK with him being the guy sent away to make it happen. But I was thinking more along the lines of "young athletic big guy", not the type of player the Suns routinely run off the floor.
However, having had a few more days to think about it, the truth is, we just don't know. I didn't think Mike D'Antoni could turn Boris Diaw into Amare-lite a couple of years ago either, but he did and it saved the season. Maybe he's got some tricks up his sleeve that we don't know about. At this point, I think we just need to see them play before predicting yay or nay. I will say that I think the prospect of next season is brighter than this one. This is an enormous boulder to be dropping into the system mid-season, especially with a very tough schedule coming up. I'm thinking it might ultimately knock the Suns out of the top half of the playoff seedings, and put them playing catchup around the 5th or 6th seed. But next season? If all goes well and everyone stays healthy, the Suns could be the team to beat.
Golden State of Mind: Which if any Western Conference teams will this trade help the Suns match up to better?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): No doubt Dallas and New Orleans. Shaq playing the 5 against teams with no-scoring centers will keep us from getting pummeled on the glass. I think the jury is still out with Duncan and Bynum. I doubt that Shaq will be able to really hang with those younger faster guys. You could say he will help against Yao but the Rockets suck so who cares.
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): I think the matchup that was targeted most here, obviously, was the one against the Spurs, and I also think (despite losing Marion's defense on Tony Parker), that the Suns probably come out ahead here if for no other reason than Shaq isn't likely to put up with nonsense like Robert Horry throwing guys into the scorers' table. In fact, the question that settles it for me is this: If Shaq (and Grant Hill) had been on the team last season instead of Marion, do the Sun win that Game 5 with Amare and Boris Diaw suspended? I think they do.
Golden State of Mind: Which if any teams in the West will this trade hurt the Suns chances?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): Utah for sure. I have no idea how the Suns are going to defend Boozer and Okur with Amare and Shaq. Boozer will go right around and under Shaq and get him into quick foul trouble and Amare isn't exactly The Matrix out on the perimeter. Losing Shawn also hurts against pretty much everyone. Dirk. Kobe. Melo. Boozer. Baron. S-Jax. CP3. I don't know if people realize how good Marion is against these perimeter guys. Sure, we got torched by Al Jeff and Tim Duncan but there are far more dangerous wing players out there and the Suns were #11 in opponent FG% and #3 in opponent 3pt%.
Against GSW? The only team that runs more then the Suns is the Warriors and I somehow don't see how Shaq is going to cover Al Harrington from jacking up 3's. That said he does have 6 hard fouls to deliver on Baron and Ellis in the lane. You don't want to piss this guy off. If it comes to a playoff matchup Shaq gives Phx a hard edge that was clearly missing in everyone not named Bell.
Look, the Suns won a lot of games by shooting a higher % (+5%) despite having fewer FGA's (-6). The gamble here is that with Shaq we reduce the gap in OReb and somehow manage to still stay at least about +3 in FG%. Big gamble if you ask me.
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): I have to agree with srp on this one. The Suns have been using a "run those big guys off the floor" strategy for the past few seasons, and now they're likely to run into teams trying to do the same to them. I'm not too worried about the Warriors, though--the Suns weren't having a lot of luck against them anyway after that trade for S-Jax and Harrington.
Golden State of Mind: The Suns have one of the top records in the league and Heat have one of the worst. Shaq is also a bigger household name than the Matrix, so it's no surprise that the Suns are getting all the media and fan attention about this move. However, Marion is still a top player in this league even though he didn't make the All-Star squad this season. What are the Heat getting in Marion? Is he a good fit for them? Would the Heat be wise to keep him in their long term plans? What do you think the future holds for Marion?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): Shawn is an incredible player and an outright freak of nature. It's just too bad that he couldn't grow up a bit more and realize that he doesn't have the skills to be a #1 or #2 or #5 option on offense. He cannot create his own shot and on a team like Miami where he thinks he's going to be #2 the Heat fans are quickly going to realize why the Suns didn't give him the huge extension he wanted.
He will be great if the Heat or any other team can convince him to focus on what he does best: lock down 1:1 D; rebounding for his size; and running and finishing on the break. I have no idea if he stays in Miami or not but I do know that Shawn likes him a party and South Beach could be enough for him to stay. He certainly isn't driven by winning a ring.
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): Unlike a lot of people, I think the Matrix will be just fine. He's been looking for a chance to prove himself, and now he has it. The fact that he seems to be happy about the trade makes it lot easier as a fan to see him go. Heck, if Miami decides to give up on the season and rest Dwyane Wade for lottery reasons, Marion might even get a chance to be "the man" for a while. Plus, it's easier to make the All-Star team in the East.
Golden State of Mind: So let's say worst comes to worst and the Phoenix Suns aren't the 2008 NBA Champs. What would go down this offseason? Would the Suns try it again with this same cast in 2008-2009 or would there be any more major changes?
srp (Bright Side of the Sun): First off, Kerr's head will be piked on a Palm tree on Central Ave. Of course this deal was initiated by Sarver and the entire organization got on board. Allegedly. So Kerr's job is likely safe. I don't know how they would do much else in the way of moves. The only real piece of value they could offer would be Barbosa and possibly Diaw if he really picks it up the rest of this year. Amare isn't going anywhere and Nash and Hill are pretty much done after next year. The Suns are stuck when Shaq's massive body proves that it can't keep up with his massive mouth. At least until he becomes valuable as an expiring contract. Just like Kwame. This is the biggest reason why this deal sucks. There were better options out there for getting big. Like Chris Webber.
TexSUN (Bright Side of the Sun): Like I said earlier, I honestly have higher hopes for next season than I do this one. I could be wrong (and often am), but I'm having a hard time seeing how the Suns will undergo such a fundamental change in philosophy in just two and a half months. This is a team that thrives on rhythm and everything being in sync. Upsetting that delicate balance has caused them problems in the past (see Amare's aborted comeback in 2006). But now that I've said that, watch the Suns go on a tear and make me feast on a Shaq-sized plate of crow sometime late in June. In any event, I don't see the Suns breaking up the new "big three" over the summer if they get sent home early again. They might try to upgrade a few pieces, but I think they would want a full season to run with it before pronouncing the idea a failure.
Many thanks to TexSun and srp of the warm Bright Side of the Sun crew for coming on our show. I'm glad we were able to catch them for an interview to get their insights on all the big things going down in Phoenix. They've done a tremendous job covering the blockbuster between the Heat and Suns and a great job blogging about this contender. If the Suns go deep into the Western Conference playoffs and even the finals, which they should be able to, it'll be fun tracking their progress on BSotS.
Warriors. Suns. ESPN. Wednesday night hoops!