Diesel fuel for Suns
In a recent phone call to
How did the trade come together? Sources say that the initial calls were made by Miami and that relations between Shaq and coach
There was concern, on both sides, that Marion would balk at the deal, but that didn't happen. Before the season, Marion squelched a potential trade with the Boston Celtics by saying he would exercise his opt-out clause after this season. It's unclear whether he will still do that, but, in any case, he is attractive for Miami -- either a major piece in a massive rebuilding job, or more off-the-books money to spend in what will surely be an active offseason for the Heat, who have fallen hard after winning the championship two seasons ago.
One of the last players in the NBA who would seem to fit the run-and-gun style of the Suns would be O'Neal. Even in his best days, the Heat center, who turns 36 on March 6, was no sprinter, and these are far from his best days. He has played in only 32 of the Heat's 46 games this season, is currently inactive with recurring pain in his left hip and leg and has missed an average of 20 games over the past six seasons with a variety of injuries.
This deal, however, is about more than what happens on the court. The Suns were not, and have never been, a team in turmoil, but it has not been a happy locker room in Phoenix this season. Nash, in particular, has become gloomier as the weight of winning a title falls heavier and heavier upon his slender shoulders. (He turned 34 on Thursday.)
"I think this is going to bring a lot of life back to Steve," a Suns source said. "He was very revved up after talking to Shaq."
But how does Shaq fit the Suns' running offense? Not at all. But as the Suns see it, they seldom run a five-man fast break, and Shaq would be the in-bounder. In the half court, the high pick-and-rolls run by Nash and current center
Defensively, as increasingly immobile as he might be, Shaq still will be able to defend against the bigger frontcourt players (read: San Antonio's
Stylistically, though, there would be major changes in Phoenix. Losing Banks, who has never caught on with D'Antoni, is no big deal; Barbosa has been the backup point guard and perhaps the versatile
It's a big move for the Suns, who not only sell themselves as a get-up-and-go offensive team but also stood a West-best 34-14 through Tuesday. It's risky to take on a center with declining athleticism, even one bound for the Hall of Fame.