It’s pretty rare that you can make the worst trade of the year and lose the best game of the year in the worst possible way all in the same day. Kudos, Phoenix.
First off, the game.
Picked up watching this one at half time and boy I’m glad I did. Hands down the best game of the first half of the season and there hasn’t been a close second.
Chris Paul played kid’s games with whoever was guarding him and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. Steve Nash floated finger rolls at will and stuck dagger threes. Peja was water and hit the biggest shot since co-European Hedo Turkoglu drilled that 40-foot turnaround vs. Boston. Amare shut down DWest for the entire 4th Quarter. DWest got tired off being shut down and started beasting in the OTs. Boris Diaw was buttery croissant soft. Shaq ate a lot of free food in the luxury box. Matrix smiled somewhere. Byron Scott gave small ball a new name by going CP3/Bobby Jax/Pargo/Peja/DWest (?!?!!??!) the entire overtime. D’Antoni added 15 gray hairs to his pilot mustache.
Not sure if I would have preferred a 3rd OT or that walk-off-fadaway-get-tackled-by-current-MVP sequence by Peja. Either way, Nash, D’Antoni and company aren’t even mad…that’s amazing.
Second off, the trade.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Okay, the trade wasn’t really as bad as it might seem.
Marion had to go…that much was clear. And the Suns have been trying to get out of that Marcus Banks contract since about five minutes after they signed it.
Could they have gotten a big guy better than Shaq? Maybe.
But even when Diesel isn’t playing particularly well — i.e., most of the time — he’s still creating space, demanding double teams and changing the game entirely. It will give Nash space to dribble around like he does, Raja/Leandro/etc. even more open threes and, most importantly, let Amare move to PF, from which he can be an even bigger beast than he already is. Just watch as STAT catches more lobs, gets more offensive boards and doesn’t get abused nightly by Duncan, Yao, Kaman, Bynum, and, hell, even Erick Dampier.
Altogether, those non-tangible upgrades could potentially have a larger impact than Marion’s solid perimeter defense and the 20/10 his puts in the box score nightly.
All this, of course, hinges on The Big Albatross being healthy. And even if he is healthy, that contract is still pretty tough to swallow. $20 million next year and $20 million the one after that — when he’ll be 38.
But whatever. I’m not paying.
So even if it’s weird that a team that’s been selling its 1st Round picks for three years because it didn’t want to pay rookie salaries is now willing to take on that much in payroll, it’s still a decent gamble by Stevie Kerr. I really didn’t think they had much chance at a ring how they were constituted anyway (especially with the probable Odom/Gasol/Bynum front line in LA LA land), and this gives Phoenix a boom/bust excitement that will be better to watch than Shawn Marion pouting through a 2nd Round Playoff loss while Steve Nash ages another year.
And no matter what happens, the rest of us can at least take solace in the fact that we got the STAT/Matrix crosslegged photo (see next post) into the public record prior to this deal taking place.
Because that, after all, is why we fight.