They Aren't Who We Thought We Were Waiting For

And with that, the dream died. I heard Obama say in every way imaginable tonight that a change was gonna come, and yet he left out the part where, for the NBA, that train stopped hard. I don't know what Kerr is thinking, or particularly care. I guess this team could be tough for the playoffs, if Shaq's got one last run left in him. But this site could give a fuck less about that. Tonight, Steve Kerr trampled on the ideals that sustain us. Politics as usual. Grind-it-out big man ball, no matter how compromised the giant. One last shot as a mechanistic ploy, not an appeal to the gods, faith, and beauty's left-hand zephyr.

If the Suns were going to win a title, it should've been on their own terms. They should've thrown themselves back in it again, knowing that they'd brought something to this game, something that could beat back others. It would've taken a little luck, or a particularly torrid run, but that's what their whole style was predicated on. Now, we're back in the realm of positivism. Rotting positivism. As far as the eye can see.

I'll be burning alive in a big pile of wheat.

UPDATE: Maybe, just maybe, I can help us all cope.

Labels: , , , ,


At 2/06/2008 2:09 AM, Blogger HarmoniousBone said...

Nice to see the Suns passed on KG, who could defend and run, only to pick up a big man who cant play D or run. To get said big man, they traded their best post defender.
I think Timmeh, Yao, Boozer, Bynum, etc are going to have big smiles on their faces tomorrow.
At least we won't be subjected to the hype of a possible Kobe-Shaq playoff battle...

At 2/06/2008 2:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...



A part of me just died inside.

To Shawn Marion: one of the greatest Suns of all time.

At 2/06/2008 2:23 AM, Blogger Chest Rockwell said...

I think maybe this isn't the total catastrophe that it looks like at first blush. If the Suns do somehow win it all this year then, yeah, we can probably wave goodbye to the dream. But if they come up even shorter than usual (if, say, they get bounced in the first round) then wouldn't it maybe (just maybe) prove once and for all that "right way" isn't always the right way? Could Nash and Amare simply end up being tragic martyrs for something greater?

If this doesn't make sense, forgive me. I'm still reeling.

At 2/06/2008 2:31 AM, Blogger gordon gartrelle said...

It's not Kerr's fault that the Suns aren't built to win championships, and that championships are the measure of success. I don't blame him for wanting to make a move to improve their chances in the playoffs, but this aint that move. The fact that PHX (or LA) didn't get KG is ridiculous.

The proposed Shaq trade is illogical. It might have made sense when Shaq was 75% old Shaq. Now he's 33%, even when healthy. Fuck offense, Shaq would completely ruin their defense by addition (Shaq) and subtraction (Marion).

At 2/06/2008 3:05 AM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

The Suns are gonna be miserably bad now. Shaq will get his inevitable quick fouls and then it will go back to the same Phoenix style basketball we've seen, just with Boris Diaw instead of Shawn Marion in the lineup and an even thinner bench. Steve Kerr must be a fucking moron to have made this trade. Has he not heard all the cries from around the league for Shaq to just retire and quit embarrassing himself? How can Kerr sit there and say they traded Shawn Marion away in an effort to increase defense and rebounding? Here's a tip: if you want to do that, don't trade away the team's best defender who also happens to be its best rebounder. Oh yeah, the ancillary benefit of this is that we get to wait and see who Shaq's additionally massive contract will force the Suns to waive or trade for a trade exception this summer.

If I was a Suns fan I'd have my head in the oven right now. After Gasol's impressive debut tonight it's safe to say that by the end of this month the Lakers will have at least a 2 game lead in the Pacific Division.

WV - pkksgbfx: Pau-Kobe kiss goodbye to Phoenix

At 2/06/2008 3:25 AM, Blogger dunces said...

At least now I don't have to feel wierdly ambivalent about the suns' mechanistic perfection of the run-and-gun, and can now regard them entirely with derision.

Go Warriors! We Believe! What? Chris who?

At 2/06/2008 4:39 AM, Blogger Nathaniel Jones said...

I know I've railed on the Suns' descent into orthodoxy once already, but this embrace of the extreme of all that they stood against for these past few years is beyond absurd.

Wild Yams is completely right: their defense and depth without Marion as the lynchpin is screwed.

Finally, between Joe Johnson's request to leave, Amare's acceptance of the Atlanta trade rumor, and Marion's chosen exile, don't we have to seriously reexamine the "the Suns/D'Antoni/Nash are all players' wet dream" line of thinking? Something's happening in Phoenix, and I don't think it can be as simple as ego tripping.

At 2/06/2008 9:18 AM, Blogger Zei_Zao_LS said...

As a Suns fan, I'm cautiously optimistic. I can't say whether or not this will work because I have no idea which Shaq will show up in Phoenix...

Also as a Suns fan, I'll note that I'll take any championships that are thrown this way short of trading for Tim Duncan and Ron Artest then grinding teams down, one painful possession at a time.

But from a style perspective... it's something of a problem for me. I love the run and gun, chuck it up, 7 seconds or less anarchy that the Suns (almost) embody. What, exactly, do the Suns lose in this trade, other than a mercurial all star who embodies what this Suns team is about?

Hopefully the answer is neither "a sense of purpose" and "entertainment value". I think I'd cry tears of joy if Shaq got into amazing shape and started running the break again though. It'd be like playing fetch with your old quadriplegic dog. It used to have so much energy... it's just weird seeing it move around again!

At 2/06/2008 9:31 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

some selfish dudes. it matters not that apparently amare is thrilled and spent the night on the phone w/ shaq like they were girls in high school? and maybe you didn't watch the parker-less spurs dissect the suns, again, last week, but steve kerr did.

the suns were lovely in theory. like communism. but this is capitalism in practice. some shit works and some shit doesn't, and ever if the shit that works is less "fair" and aesthetically pleasing then the shit that doesn't, it still works. and the alternatives is to butt heads, and lose, to the teams that embrace the shit that works.

At 2/06/2008 9:51 AM, Blogger El Presidente said...

I feel like you should post a giant yellow Godzilla (if it hadn't been lost in the flood), but post the picture upside down. We live in bizarro world. KCUF!

At 2/06/2008 10:20 AM, Blogger jsuns1 said...

Response to HarmoniousBone

The suns didn't pass on K.G., marion killed the deal by saying he'd opt out, the suns are sick of marion's attitude, me personally, yeah the deal for shaq is messed up, wish we had gotten someone younger obviously

At 2/06/2008 10:21 AM, Blogger PostmanE said...

some selfish dudes. it matters not that apparently amare is thrilled and spent the night on the phone w/ shaq like they were girls in high school? and maybe you didn't watch the parker-less spurs dissect the suns, again, last week, but steve kerr did.

I'm sorry, but I have a hard time figuring out how Shaq fixes that. Have you seen Shaq this year? I know he's prone to slackerism during the regular season, but it's brutally obvious he can't do the things he used to be able to do at all. You think he can really stop Tim Duncan?

Even if you want to put all style laments aside (and I don't), how does Shaq make this team a title contender?

Embracing orthodoxy is one thing. Abandoning everything you stand for -- likely without an effective result, but I suppose we'll see -- is entirely another.

At 2/06/2008 10:22 AM, Blogger Trey said...

While my feelings on the Suns are most definitely this, at least the Heat become interesting. Wade, Williams, Ricky D, Marion, and Wright are a pretty hilarious group.

I'm going to go read :07 or Less and think of what went wrong.

At 2/06/2008 11:25 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"It's the sound of inevitability." So said Agent Smith in The Matrix.

At 2/06/2008 12:05 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

IMO Steve Kerr is gambling his franchise's championship window on a couple really bad things:

1. That Shaq will become "motivated" and suddenly revert to the guy Shaq was a few years ago. At Shaq's age (36 in a month), you can't suddenly decide that now you're going to work hard and reverse all the damage years of laziness has done. Not at his size. Shaq already won his ring sans Kobe, and no doubt feels like he's got nothing left to prove. The guy was content to be on the league's worst team just so long as he kept getting paid. There is no motivation there; but there is still a huge ego. If Shaq starts looking bad and the Suns go into a tailspin, he's not gonna take it all on himself, and will instead lash out at those around him.

2. That Shaq will be willing to play defense and not worry about scoring. It all goes back to Shaq's ego and his unwillingness to sacrifice his scoring a la an older Wilt just so his team can win. As Shaq so famously said with the Lakers "if the big dog isn't fed, he won't guard the yard." I know the Suns envision a game plan where Shaq guards the paint, and after swatting a shot or rebounding a miss keys the fast break where everyone but him runs down court and scores quickly so Shaq can just stay rooted on one end of the floor, but it's not gonna happen like that.

3. That Shaq can actually be a strong defensive presence. On offense if Shaq gets the ball in the low post he's still a threat to dunk it, but his abilities on the defensive end have long left him. Shaq has no ability to move laterally and instead usually resorts to bad fouls to save himself from being posterized. Shaq will get in foul trouble quickly in Phoenix, just as he has in Miami this year, and that'll force Amare back to center where he too can get into foul trouble.

I've long been in the camp that has felt that if Phoenix wanted to win they needed some kind of post presence, but Shaq ain't the answer. If the Suns just wanted a big stiff to push Amare to the 4 for a few minutes a game they should have signed Chris Webber. At least that way they could have kept Shawn Marion.

At 2/06/2008 12:19 PM, Blogger The Zoner said...

There were times in the Chicago series last year that Shaq was Shaq. You could tell he was amped to play against Ben Wallace. A hurt guy on a 9-37 team with nothing to prove traded to a championship contender? I imagine it has to put some zip in his step, not to mention he is getting healthier.

Kerr looks at their poor rebounding and 14-12 conference record and sees postseason trouble ahead.

At 2/06/2008 12:36 PM, Blogger KB said...

"Embracing orthodoxy is one thing. Abandoning everything you stand for -- likely without an effective result, but I suppose we'll see -- is entirely another."

The Suns don't stand for anything, except, like, every other team in the league, an attempt to win a title. There was no way the suns would get past more than one of the suns/lakers/mavs, and that's assuming they'd beat GS in the first round. It's a huge, and, most-likely, terrible move, but it's not like they threw in nash for eric snow here. A line-up of Shaq and amare with barbosa, diaw and hill running the show could potentially resurrect some of what they once "stood for"

At 2/06/2008 12:41 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Well, at least the Suns shed Marcus Banks' contract.

At 2/06/2008 12:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The thing that really bothers me about this trade (among many things that bother me about this trade) is that it would've made so much more sense for them to go after Ben Wallace. He's cheaper, can actually still rebound/play low post D/ block some shots, and wouldn't slow the offense to a crawl.

Why handcuff the current master of the pick and roll offense with a guy that absolutely cannot play in that type of system?

One last note: I remember Kerr talking about how limited Shaq had become several times as a broadcaster...and that was 2-3 years ago. This just doesn't make any sense.

At 2/06/2008 1:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I love how people are throwing the dirt on the Suns' championship dreams. Like the Suns were going to beat two or more of the following teams to make the Finals: the Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Nuggets, Hornets, Warriors, and Jazz? Doubtful.

Can they beat those teams now, with Shaq? We'll see. I'm not ready to instantly write Shaq and the Suns off as "finished", not yet.

And there are other reasons for the trade beside trying to win a championship, unfortunately (salary cap, luxury cap, future rebuilding, getting more fans in the seats).

As for the death of the dream... that I can feel sorry for. It's over, and the Warriors are the last bastion of hope for the "New NBA" to represent in the playoffs, and let's not act like they didn't just sign Chris Webber for a reason.

There should be a picture of Santa Claus here somewhere. Because ya'll just found out the truth...

At 2/06/2008 1:13 PM, Blogger Hypothetical Self said...

I am sure that I am missing something. I hope that I am missing something, because it's not just that the Suns are settling for typical playoff basketball, but that they are getting rid of a great and dynamic player for some guy whose style has basically ruined every year of playoff basketball since I was a child. He is the essential sellout who cheated the (beloved) Kings (also the first team to succeed with the wildly entertaining Princeton offense in modern times) and then had the gall to call them the Queens, the guy on the team that stole the Blazers and (less-so) Mavs chances at a championship. This is not just some big player who will slow the team down, but the cheapest and most successful player of this generation. He is the status quo.

At 2/06/2008 1:17 PM, Blogger tommi teardrop said...

Marion was gonna opt out. Simple as that. They wanted to get something for him that could help them win. They had to move Marion. They chose to trade him for someone that would allow Amare to play the position he should have been playing all along.

All this talk, they should have gone after this guy or that guy. I doubt teams were making great offers for a guy that cannot create his own shot, can opt out at the end of the year, shoots the ugliest set shot in the league, and who has been playing out of position for the last 3 years.

They dont even have to change the offense if they don't want to. Shaq can come in in spurts and Diaw can just replace Marion as the PF when Shaq is not needed defensively.

How often are all 5 guys on the break anyway? The Suns will be fine. They wont turn into the Spurs. Calm down.

At 2/06/2008 1:22 PM, Blogger dunces said...

Look, I'm not gonna hedge: this is a desperate move by a blindered man. Shaq is not what the suns need, and unless there's another deal in the works here, he's going to torpedo this team just like he has every other team he's been on, only this time there's not enough left in the tank to win a championship first.

At 2/06/2008 2:08 PM, Blogger PostmanE said...

The Suns don't stand for anything, except, like, every other team in the league, an attempt to win a title. There was no way the suns would get past more than one of the suns/lakers/mavs, and that's assuming they'd beat GS in the first round. It's a huge, and, most-likely, terrible move, but it's not like they threw in nash for eric snow here. A line-up of Shaq and amare with barbosa, diaw and hill running the show could potentially resurrect some of what they once "stood for"

Disagree, and I don't just mean in the context of this site. From the time he took over in Phoenix, D'Antoni's philosophy has been at the core of their acquisitions. If you've read McCallum's book on the Suns, the philosophy is consistent throughout: If we run our stuff, we'll win.

I think the Suns are abandoning that now without seeing it to its logical conclusion. At the very least, give it one more year.

At 2/06/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger boris said...

Tommi is on point here I think. I don't quite understand the depth of negative reaction. The Suns were obviously not constructed in a way that was going to get past the Spurs, Dallas and probably the Lakers/Jazz this year. And Marion was going to opt-out, and you don't need five men on a break.

To go back to the style questions - one thing about Shaq - who is one of my least favourite players - is that he is an underrated passer, and this makes me see how it can work. He is going to throw the outlet to Nash/Barbosa who will finish the break with Amare trailing and Shaq standing near his on hoop, or be able to move the ball and curl off for a lot of open looks in the half court.

Yes, he might be done. But I think we'll see, and I also think Marion is incredibly overrated and I'd like nothing better to see how he performs without Nash feeding him for dunks and spot-up threes.

At 2/06/2008 2:49 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Tommi Teardrop hits this on the nail: the writing was on the wall with Marion. The Heat and Grizzlies were both clearing out space to make a run at him (the Grizzlies in far better cap shape to do so); the 76ers were also longshots who might have had interest in Marion. So the Suns had to trade him and get something for him. If they had done a sign and trade in the offseason, no one would have complained about what they are getting in return.

Now they got a decent 20-25 minute player, who despite not being the most dominate player in the NBA in about 3-5 years, is still a decent player. He's not f*cking Mark Blount, people. He's a solid veteran player, like Grant Hill. Only 15 times more expensive, but that's another issue. Had the Suns signed Shaq for a couple of million, like the Spurs just did with Damon Stoudemire, and no one would be questioning them for adding him.

So in the context of talent, this trade isn't awful. It'll also reaps other benefits - fan attendence goes up, and the Suns dump Marcus Banks contract (where is the Free Darko love for Banks, btw?!? Shouldn't we all be excited at seeing Banks unchained for the first time in three years?).

As for D'Antoni's system... that reached its end when Kerr was signed to be GM. Since then you have Grant Hill and now Shaq. Kerr believes in something different then D'Antoni, and I'm guessing that is... the end of the tunnel. Steve Nash is getting old. Diaw, Amare and Barbosa are base of the rebuilt 2010 Suns. Between now and then the plan is to get Nash, Hill, and now Shaq one last run at a title.

Oh, finally: Saying Shaq destroys franchises is silly, considering he's lead every franchise he's been on to the Finals. The Magic were in decent shape when he left (Penny Anderson plus money to sign Grant Hill), and the Lakers and Heat were in prime positions to rebuild after his departure. Blame incompetent GMs for the failures of those franchises, but not Shaq.

And the Suns will be in prime position to rebuild when Shaq's contract expires in 2010, too. Is it to early to think about the possibility of Amare, Barbosa and LeBron?

At 2/06/2008 2:58 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

I think people actually underrate Marion because they think that his production is all due to Nash. Look at Marion's numbers back when Stephon Marbury was running the Suns and you'll see they're virtually identical to what they've been with Nash. Marion brought defense and rebounding to the Suns, two things that they are in desperate need of. With him gone one has to wonder how bad their defense is going to be now. Nash and Amare are two of the worst starting defenders in the league, and Grant Hill and Diaw aren't that great either. Add to this 36 year old Shaq and his run at the NBA record for consecutive foul outs and the knees should start to knock in the Valley of the Sun.

Look, the Suns weren't gonna win as previously constructed, that much was clear. I've been saying that around here for a long time, although in true anti-FD fashion I was saying it was Nash the Suns should have been looking to move. A team needs a good low post presence to have success in the playoffs, and that is what Kerr is trying to do. The only problem is, Shaq is no longer a good low post presence. Kerr is trying to ram this change of philosophies down D'Antoni's throat and it'll be interesting to see if he swallows it.

At 2/06/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger Demosthenes said...

Some responses:

I agree that the Suns should have done it their own way. I also don't think Shaq has enough athletically to contribute to this team, which I find sad given that I grew up loving the Suns, Shaq's ebullience during his heyday, and Nash's skills and drive have capture my basketball imagination since he came on in Dallas. Sadly, this season, Nash has started to remind me of a grim KG from his last few years trapped in Minny. You can see the pressure to win building on his shoulders.

That said, regarding Marion being a malcontent...the man was clearly able to shelve his issues in the early part of this season after his trade request, so his professionalism would have seen them through the rest of this season and most likely the next if he didn't opt out...

And the chances of Marion opting out, I think, are slim, given how few teams will have the cap space to sign a $17 million/year guy. Frankly, while I don't think all of Marion's success is a byproduct of the system (he put big numbers up pre-Nash), I don't see him as a franchise player. And guys who aren't franchise players don't command $17 mil. He's a great second banana, so to speak, and that's more of a $10-12 million player and the market would have shown that. So, basically, to move up one slot in the pecking order, he'd have to find someone to give him 10-12 and that would mean leaving 5 million on the table. Not likely if he's as selfish as everyone seems to imply.

As for Banks, to be honest, I think D'Antoni has misused him for years. Part of that is backing up the best point in the game. Nash creates heightened expectations. But mostly, I think he was a young kid who sat the pine for several years in Boston, got extensive run on a bad team once, and has seen too many coaches on bad teams in too few years. D'Antoni's mistake was not being patient enough with his mistakes to give him consistent run. He'd get a stretch like he had a few weeks ago where he'd get 15-20 minutes for two weeks and then goes straight back to the bench for a string of DNPs.

At 2/06/2008 3:25 PM, Blogger Pacifist Viking said...

How about what the Heat have done recently.

Step One: trade good young players (Odom and Butler) for Shaq.

Step Two: win a title with Shaq

Step Three: trade aging/expensive Shaq for a very good 29 year old player.

I'm rather intrigued with the Heat.

At 2/06/2008 3:36 PM, Blogger Tom Deal said...

even if shaq suddenly finds it in him to play massively good defense, get in the best shape for 10 years, and play good pick and roll, and the suns win like 2 championships, they are no longer a team i will root for. i don't care about the wins, i don't care if they remain fast break, i'm just not interested in them anymore.

after amare became fundamentals-lite, nash continued to be lauded as the best pg in the league even with the high turnover rate, and they signed grant hill, my interest in the suns was seriously on the downslide. marion was the glue, the heart and soul. fuck steve nash/kerr.

on the bright side, now i can finally indulge my irrational liking of dwayne wade, especially now since his team doesn't make me punch babies.

mad props to whoever said shaq is the status quo. pray that mullins doesn't go apeshit and trade baron davis for eddy curry.

At 2/06/2008 4:18 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Who's first to come up with a designed cherry picking play: Nellie or D'Antoni?

At 2/06/2008 5:05 PM, Blogger paper tiger said...

who'll be the first to get a defensive three seconds violation called on them while their team is on offense: shaq or webber?

At 2/06/2008 5:23 PM, Blogger Mark said...

seems like Marion must be some kind of serious locker room cancer? that's gotta be the best explanation of this.

They should've never traded the 8 pick, if they'd picked Deng Marion would've become expendable..

At 2/06/2008 5:31 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

With an eye to the future of the Suns sans Nash, D'Antoni and Shaq:

Prepare for a total meltdown if the core is Amare, Barbosa and Diaw.

STAT will foul out every night and average 25 minutes/game (He may still put up 20/10).

Everybody will figure out how easy Barbosa is to defend when he mans the point, and he will be jacking up 18 foot, running, left hand bank shots with at least one hand in his face.

Diaw will be like the guy at the end of Blair Witch Project standing in the corner with his head down while whatever coach replaces D'A shrieks while being murdered.

At 2/06/2008 6:03 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Can we now toast to those few Sun's playoff series? They were a perfect fragment in time, trailblazing a path into pure basketball enjoyment. We took them for granted, never could properly frame them for what they were: perfect and now the impossible past. Nash's bloody nose vs. Horry's forearm is infinitely more powerful than Kobe's Euro vs. Shaq's sweaty disappointment will ever be. Here's to you, 2005-7. LECHAIM!

At 2/06/2008 6:19 PM, Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/06/2008 6:21 PM, Blogger Jim said...

To the liberated fan, this is surelythe death of the Suns. Shaq's is a game only a homer could love. Is this about teaching Amare to play the post?

The only ray of hope is that when shaq gets injured, we get a STAT-Diaw-Hill-Bell-Nash lineup, and that boom-boom gets his groove back.

wv - zosss: zeigeist over, shaq shades suns

At 2/06/2008 6:21 PM, Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

I'm just a potato-eater, but I think some of my learned brethren have gone overboard with "the Suns *couldn't* have won the title" as currently (formerly? whatever--pre-Shaq) constructed. That they did not make it to the Finals last year, I will grant you, but I will not say that they *could* not have due to some inherent flaw. Shit was close, and the Amare suspension was an x-factor. Perhaps Shaq's role will be to sit on Amare lest he leave the bench?

Shaq is chubby, you see.

At 2/06/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...


Is that a reference to my anti-Irish hate speech on Deadspin?

At 2/06/2008 7:01 PM, Blogger Mister Sniffles said...

I think that we know where everyone stands on the run-and-gun issue. That has been beaten to death everywhere.

The point that I feel needs to be made is the totally illogical reasoning behind refusing to trade within your conference.

Recall that Kups and Buss wanted Shaq out of the West and were ready to accept a bit of a discount in doing so. 3.5 years later, Shaq is back in the west. Oops.

Player contracts are fungible enough that worrying about such matters in the short term negates the value to the trading franchise in the long term. It is critical that you get the best deal, because you have no idea what the next guy will do or what the future may hold.

At 2/06/2008 7:07 PM, Blogger sharky h. towers said...

Paper Tiger- THAT'S comedy.

At 2/06/2008 7:53 PM, Blogger Nathaniel Jones said...

JA Adande: most FD espn columnist?

At 2/07/2008 8:16 PM, Blogger MaxwellDemon said...

Shoals--it was a random quote from On the Waterfront. Missed the Irish thing on Deadspin.


Post a Comment

<< Home