Shaq and Bron
"...for Wallace and Pavlovic. Don't laugh, I think it could work."

I had plans for today. More Worsties. Maybe a post about fighting in pickup basketball. But I scrapped those plans when I heard about the Shaq-to-Cleveland trade. The deal might help Cleveland bust through their championship wall. Meanwhile, it means nothing short of utter and absolute destruction for the Phoenix Suns. In the short term, anyway.

Look, kiddies, the fact is this: Times have changed. The United States economy is sucking so hard that it could choke down Oliver Miller AND the World's Fattest Man in one huge gulp. Of course, the reality is NBA basketball never has been about winning. Well, it is sometimes, but only inasmuch as winning typically means making more money. That's just good business. But other times, and this is one of those times, good business means losing. Just ask the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks. And losing is what you can expect from the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns. And I mean a lot of it.

In return for the Big Brad Daughterneze, Phoenix is getting the decaying shell of Ben Wallace (which is the same as getting nothing), Sasha "The Invisible Man" Pavlovic (ditto), the 46th pick in Thursday's draft (double-ditto) and some cash (which is actually something). They'll also save money in salary and luxury tax (about $10 million, according to some reports). This was nothing more or less than a cost-cutting measure. They need to save greebacks, and they will...at the expense of winning basketball and the happiness of their fan base.

And to think, ESPN's Chris Broussard said: "The Phoenix Suns are not going to give O'Neal away merely to save money." Sucker.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't the Shaq of the early 2000s we're talking about. He wasn't great. However, he certainly was good last season: 17.8 PPG (on a league-best 60.9 percent shooting), 8.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG and a PER of 22.3 (which put him ahead of guys like Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, Danny Granger, Devin Harris, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, etc.) He came close to setting a career-high in free throw percentage (59.5 percent). Cav-a-Shaq was an All-Star and even made the All-NBA Third Team for the first time since 2005-06. I guess all those things make him one of the best players in the game.

And yet he wasn't making the Suns any better. Meanwhile, he was chewing up $20 million worth of cap space. When you can't win with someone AND you can't afford him, well, it's probably time to bid him adieu. Normally, a team will try to get actual basketball talent in return. One trade I heard bandied about was Shaq to the Bulls for a package that could have included Luol Deng (finally a small forward to replace Shawn Marion and spell Grant Hill), Kirk Hinrich (finally a backup point guard to give Steve Nash a blow), and maybe some draft picks and cash. That move might have restocked some shelves and allowed the Suns to run free again. Or maybe not. But what does it matter now? The deed is done. Steve Kerr's failure is now complete. Or it will be once he gets rid of Steve Nash and trades Amare for Tracy McGrady.

On the other end of the trade spectrum we have a Cavs team starring LeBron and LeBrawn. Think about it for a second: Cleveland added Shaq -- a Shaq who proved last season he still has some Power Thirst left in the tank -- to a team that won 66 games and has the league's reigning MVP. AND THEY GAVE UP NOTHING. Wallace and Pavlovic were D-U-N, done. And if Shaq doesn't work out, so what? His contract comes off the books next summer...and the Cavaliers will be waaaaaaay under the cap. (Right now, they're committed to only about $36 million in 2010-11.)

Look, there are plenty of reasons to suspect that Shaq will be a bust in Cleveland. But it's a worthwhile gamble for the Cavs. It's not like when the Suns traded for Shaq and had to give up one of their key players. The only thing we have to figure out now is who's championship piggybacking off who? Because let's face it: King "Check My $tats" James wants the world to bow to his basketball supremacy...and so does Shaq. The Big Cavalanche can play kissy-face with Kobe all he wants, but unless I know "jack" and "sh*t" about human psychology, he'd love to earn championship numero cinco while cock-blocking Mamba's quest for a fifth.

It'll be interesting to see how this trade works out for Cleveland, and what moves the Eastern Conference Elite (Celtics, Magic) will make to counter it, if any. (Due to salary constraints, all Danny Ainge will be able to do, I think, is to watch helplessly and maybe pee himself.) As for the Suns, well, watching them is going to become exceedingly depressing. But I'll take some comfort in knowing that Robert Sarver will be saving some money while Steve Kerr is (presumably) saving his job.

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46 Comments:
Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Did you get my email last night? I was still awake and literally got the news down to the minute when this happened. I may be able to respond to this in a few days.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
AnacondaHL -- I did. I responded and asked if you wanted to post your tale or if you wanted me to do it. Which'll it be?

Blogger Cortez said...
This has absolutely nothing to do with the post but I have to vent.

A basketball pal of mine made the (moronic) comment that Larry Bird was not a "top ten" all time basketball player. Then he made the usual wacko statement that he wouldn't be so celebrated if he wasn't white.

I then asked him to name this (mythical) black player with career numbers of 25/10/7, 50% from the field and three rings

(while playing the last couple of years in traction!!!!!!!!).

Instead of answering my question (granted, there exists no answer to be given.) he said that he benefited from playing with hall of famers.

Then I asked him for the (mythical) player (I removed the "race" aspect altogether) with the same credentials who is somehow inexplicably shunned for LJB.

During his rambling non-answer I suddenly realized that it was in fact I that was making the mistake in even engaging in the conversation in the first place.

I wonder if there is a connection with this guy's inability to win games, despite his adequate skill level, in pick-up basketball and his irrational thoughts on LJB.

I suspect so.

Blogger chris said...
The main reason Ainge won't be able to do much is simple: his co-GM, Kevin McHale, is now unemployed.

Blogger Buck Nasty said...
If ever there was a time for a Sad (Suns) Trombone, it is now. Wah wah waaahhhh. *Tears*

Blogger flohtingPoint said...
I might have said this before, but- *clears throat* -I HATE ROBERT SARVER! C'mon man, even the computer on NBA Live wouldn't allow a trade like this. Honestly, have you ever seen a team trade the 2nd worst contract in basketball for the absolute worst contract in basketball? Yea, me neither.

Anonymous kazam92 said...
He's the Big Shaqolier now

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Cortez - You're friends with Isiah Thomas?

chris - Classic!

I'm not totally sold on this Shaq to the Crabs trade. I mean, it's smart for Cleveland to do, cause they really had nothing to lose, but I don't know if it's gonna work. Is Shaq's presence going to clog the lane to the extent that it makes LeBron want to shoot more jumpers? If so, then that's bad. Would Shaq and Varejao on the floor at the same time mean that the lane would be even more clogged?

I think the Cavs need to make some more moves to really put them over the top. Right now against a healthy Boston team you've got Perkins to D up Shaq without having to use KG to double, and with KG having to deal with Varejao that means he can pretty much roam all over the place. Then you've got Pierce on LeBron, Ray on West and Rondo on Mo. Plus, Boston's got a better bench (provided of course that the C's are fully healthy). Same goes for matching up with LA, where Bynum or Gasol could guard Shaq with Gasol/Odom against Varejao, Ariza on LBJ, Kobe v. West and Mo against Fisher.

This might make the Crabs better than the Magicians, but honestly when compared to fully healthy squads Orlando was only the third best team in the league last year. I think Cleveland needs more. I think they need Rasheed Wallace.

Blogger Apocalypse34 said...
First off, love the new banner.

Now, I'm not too sold on the Cavs after this trade. Granted, this is a low risk trade and I agree Cleveland was right in bringing in Shaq. But I don't think this solves their problems.

Shaq hasn't been a good pick and roll defender, and Orlando killed them with the pick and roll. I'm also not buying the "now he can guard Howard and Garnett" arguments either. A year ago Shaq was supposed to be the guy to contain Tim Duncan and push Phoenix over the top which didn't happen.

Shaq's stats were impressive last year for a guy his age. Then again everyone's stats look good in Gentry's SSOL offense. Well, unless you're Goran Dragic. Even after taking away the inflation Shaq's numbers are still good yet I have to wonder if he'll even be healthy as much in Cleveland where he won't have Phoenix's medical staff, who supposedly work more wonders than a fairy in a Zelda game.

Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...
This is basically an admission that the Suns (management, not players) don't even care about trying. So why not do us all a favor, trade Nash and Stoudemire to teams that might actually use them and provide some entertainment, and go in the tank? That would be more honest than to keep the current core playing, knowing that they can't possibly achieve anything (and will be lucky to even make the playoffs).

OpenID NarSARSsist said...
Sorry basketbawful, but you're wrong about Ainge not being able to anything else. In addition to peeing his mandiapers, he also went and blasted Rondo http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4286112

Nothing says improving your team like telling your budding young star "You Suck!"

Anonymous hellshocked said...
With Cleveland desperate enough to take on a 38 year old Shaq, I'm surprised the Clippers weren't actively trying to force Zack Randolph onto them. I get that nobody wants him but that's no reason not to try to get rid of the guy. He's younger than Shaq, just as fat and would certainly fit in with the Cleveland pattern of getting James players that willably drive him the hell out of Ohio.

Blogger chris said...
hellshocked: You know, Oliver Miller needs a place to sign...and Ohio is one of the few states in the Union that has Tim Horton's Donuts locations.

mmm, donuts...

Anonymous AK Dave said...
"...Kirk Hinrich (finally a backup point guard to give Steve Nash a blow)"

-lol. what would Goran Dragic do then? he'd be out of a job (snicker! somebody make it stop!)

"Steve Kerr's failure is now complete."

-If you cannot be turned... then perhaps SHE WILL!!

What a great post. All that's missing is a Yakov Smirnoff joke.

Blogger plonden said...
Wild Yams is spot on.

Shaq to the Cavs is a BAD MOVE. The spacing issues are a nightmare and it will be something the Cavs need to address and work around to overcome. However, I am skeptical that Coach Brown has the ability to overcome it, as his inability to make adjustments was exposed against the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

Let's say the Cavs start Varejao and Shaq at the four and the five. Neither one of these guys has a reliable mid-range game and cannot really stretch the defense. I just don't see this working out to allow proper spacing on the floor. If Varejao moves out of the paint to not clog up the lane, his defender can slack off of him and double Shaq in the paint, creating congestion. This cuts off Lebron's go to move, which is starting at the top of the key with the ball in his hands and penetrating to force the defense to react. He reads the defense's reaction and makes a decision (shoot, dunk, pass). This game plan no longer works with Shaq as the Cavs' starting center.

I do like the idea of getting Sheed on the Cavs and playing him primarily at the four (this idea has been thrown around). His ability to stretch the defense to the three point line would be a huge boon for the Cavs. Otherwise, they will be in trouble with Varejao and Shaq on the floor together.

With Shaq and Lebron, EVERYONE on the floor needs to be a shooter because they are going to get a ton of open looks at the basket. That is for sure. The Cavs just need to find another big man that can stretch the defense. Varejao is not that guy.

Anonymous AK Dave said...
WRT this trade, here are some thoughts:

- Boobie Gibson is doing backflips right now because he's back in the rotation full-time with Wally gone. I don't think this changes much of anything other than the name on the jersey of the shooter coming off the bench. In fact, I think Boobie is the better player.

- Wallace was doing exactly jack and $#!t for this team, so losing him is no big deal for Cleveland. On the other side of things- what the hell can Wallace do for Phoenix? That offense kinda requires players that can, uh, shoot the ball a little bit. Which is exactly why Shaq was a bad fit for them.

- Somebody might have already said it, but how much do you want to bet that Shaq's numbers fall off the cliff now that he's not playing with Nash? I forsee about 14ppg, 8reb, .5blk and 4.5 fouls in 25min out of Shaq next year. And no back-to-backs.

- What happens to Z in all of this? Is he relegated to the bench? Does CLE put them in together from time to time so that they can out-height everyone with their amazing height abilities?

- Can Steve Nash help even BEN WALLACE attain career numbers and become relevant in the offense? If so, then this feat alone should get him into the HOF and validate his 2MVPs to all the dislikers.

- Finally: can we start a pool for the amount of time it takes for Shaq to whine about not getting the ball enough and for him and LBJ to get into a pissing contest over "whose team this is"? I'm betting early Feb 2010

WV- dimpa

"would you like to dimpa-size that for just a quarter more?"

Blogger Fishy said...
Aaand this is what we'll hear all next year... Kobe & Phil vs. Lebron and Shaq Finals.

OpenID sweatkth said...
So proud to have finally purchased season tickets to the Suns!!! Guess I'll be going to watch other teams play this year.

Blogger Will said...
AK Dave- Would you like me to puncha-size your face for free?

Anonymous poptarted said...
Put on your bib and get ready to chow down at the Crab Shaq! All you can eat!

Blogger Clifton said...
Local yak keeps saying the Suns are "not done dealing" before the draft begins later on today. Maybe Wallace will keep moving, and maybe they'll negotiate his buyout/retirement. All indications are that Pavlovic will never suit up here, too.

Sigh.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
AK Dave - I think Ben Wallace is supposedly gonna retire.

I'm not sure which is more likely: Shaq to start complaining about not getting enough touches, or Shaq to suddenly start weighing in a lot about LeBron leaving, causing lots of off court issues. I should also throw this in: how likely is it Shaq will have either a major injury which keeps him out for a lot of the season or at the very least one of his usual "injuries" which allows him to take a 2-3 week break?

"Would you like me to puncha-size your face for free?"

Blogger DDC said...
The Big 2nd Fiddle. This will not end well for the Cavs. Mike Brown, get your resume ready dude.

Blogger chris said...
DDC: What resume? Other than one of the least deserved Coach of the Year awards in sports history, and leading the Crabs to boil away in the clutch...

Blogger DDC said...
chris - Good point, but he'll get a job as an assistant coach after his tenure in Cleveland comes to an end.

Blogger chris said...
DDC: Don't give Dunleavy any ideas...

Anonymous DKH said...
Chris:

Mike Brown is a legitimate defensive coach. Which, admittedly, should make him an assistant coach, but it's no reason to disparage what he's done. His teams the past several years have had very few big-name defensive players, but they are almost always effective defensively.

Who are the defensive gems on the Cavs? LeBron James has developed into a good defensive player. But your other players are a 6-2 West at shooting guard, Ben Wallace's corpse, the slow-footed Ilgauskas, and Mo Williams. This was Cleveland's "optimal" starting lineup this year, although they would close games with Varejao. Yet they were a top defensive team.

So yea, Mike Brown definitely deserves an assistant coach role, and he would be worth more than your typical assistant coach, even if he isn't head coach quality. Although, even on that point, he's young and will learn.

Anonymous Doctor Flarb said...
The Cavs should immediately get rid of that raised-court thing they have going on in their arena. You can almost guarantee that Shaq will trip on the edge, pancake a ball boy (or Daniel Gibson), and blow out his knee &/or hip.

On the plus side, hopefully this will drive Steve Nash to the Raptors even faster; especially since Amare is apparently going to Golden State for either Monta Ellis or the kid they drafted Thursday...?

Anonymous Arlen said...
saying that the cavs have nothing to lose with this trade is mos'def' not tru'. Shaq is not one to sit mildly and let things pass - if there are any bumps he'll turn them into grinds. They're still a player away, sheed is a good idea (if he has anything left...)
However, they'll at least have fun together and come up with some crazy fun goofy pregame antics! yay.

What about vince carter to the magic? Pisses me off. He doesn't deserve anything but to waste away on a team which no one cares or talks about.

An interesting thought is that this season would have been the perfect window (seemingly) for the dantoni suns team. They got shaq to compete with spurs, but this year the spurs weren't in it. LA would have been an ok matchup. They actually had a window of opportunity, and it would have been fun to have an actual team to compete against LA. Too bad they blew their load too early, and are now heading towards lottery land

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Arlen - In case you forgot, the D'Antoni Suns got smoked badly both times by the Lakers last year before the Shaq and Gasol trades. I don't think they would have been able to compete with LA after the Lakers landed Gasol, not last year and certainly not this year. Hell, they almost got beat by them a few years back when LA was starting Luke Walton, Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. The Lakers of the last two years would easily have been able to run and score with the D'Antoni SSOL Suns, but unlike Phoenix, the Lakers actually play pretty good defense. A series between the 2009 Lakers vs. D'Antoni's SSOL Suns would have been LA in 4 or 5.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- For the sake of accuracy, I need to point out that before the Shaq and Gasol trades, the Lakers-Suns games went as follows:

November 2 in L.A.: 119-98, Lakers. A legitimate smoking.

December 25 in L.A.: 122-115, Lakers. A close game at home on Christmas day. Home teams typically have the advantage on Christmas day. It's a win, but hardly a smoking, and not convincing due to the circumstances.

January 7: 106-98, Suns. Obviously a team can't be smoked when they win.

I'm just sayin'.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Oh, and I should mention that the third game was virtually a Suns smoking of L.A. (it was 79-61 after three quarters), until the Lakers played catchup (37-27) in the fourth after the Suns pulled back on the throttle.

I also made a factual boo-boo: The first game was in Phoenix and the third game was in L.A.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - Shame on you for bringing up that third game without mentioning that it was one of those weird few games that happened after Bynum's injury and before the Gasol trade. Yes, you're right that the Suns beat a Lakers team that started Kwame Brown (who had 7 turnovers and was famously booed repeatedly by the home Laker crowd that night), but I don't see how you can consider that to have any bearing on what a matchup of this year's Lakers and the Suns from 18 monhts ago would have gone. Like Mark Jackson would say, you're better than that.

Also, lest you wonder how much of a difference Bynum would have made in that game, check the boxscore from that Xmas Day game and you'll see that he left tire marks all over Amare to the tune of 28 & 12, as compared to Amare's 19 & 6. BTW, keep in mind in that early season shellacking, the Lakers were without Odom but still won in Phoenix by 21.

So I'll put it to you straight: what would be your prediction for the Suns circa January of 2008 vs the Lakers we just saw win the title. I'm sticking with my pick of Lakers in 4 or 5, with that one Suns win due mostly to the kind of lazy disinterest the Lakers displayed this year when they felt they weren't challenged, and/or the Suns getting insanely hot from the perimeter for a game. You think a Suns team with no post offense or defense and which would have featured Amare and Marion going up against Bynum, Gasol and Odom would have stood a chance of winning? No way in hell. Throw in Ariza and Kobe vs Grant Hill and Raja Bell and the fact that the Lakers actually have a bench while those Suns did not and it should be clear it would have been every bit as one-sided as I said it would.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Wild Yams said: "...but I don't see how you can consider that to have any bearing on what a matchup of this year's Lakers and the Suns from 18 monhts ago would have gone. Like Mark Jackson would say, you're better than that."

Whoa there, tiger. Are you working out with plyometric jump shoes or something, because you just made a pretty mighty leap to a rather dubious conclusion. I simply said "for the sake of accuracy" because your original statement -- "In case you forgot, the D'Antoni Suns got smoked badly both times by the Lakers last year before the Shaq and Gasol trades." -- was blatantly incorrect. And I know you're a real stickler for accuracy. Please re-check my statement and let me know if you find something in it that asserts anything about the January 2008 Suns versus the June 2009 Lakers. I'm pretty sure I was avoiding that subject.

Now, shame on YOU for mentioning Kwame's TOs in that third game without noting that the Suns committed a season-high 24 bumbles and the Lakers similarly had a season-worst 22 themselves it what was a pretty sloppy game all-around. Nor did you mention how Kobe disappeared in the second and third quarters. So on and so forth. All games have "what if" circumstances. That's the nature of sport.

And bringing up Bynum's 28-12 is fairly meaningless in terms of speculation, even as meaninless speculation goes (and, short of one of us obtaining God-like powers over time and space, isn't all this more or less pointless conjecture?). Bynum has always been wildly inconsistent. Maybe he would have had 30/15 in that third game, maybe he would have had 6/5 and 5 fouls. Between injuries and inconsistency, Bynum has been a big tease pretty much from Day One. So really, you're not going to get anywhere with me by arguing what Bynum MIGHT have done IF he'd been healthy...

...particularly since I wasn't initiating debate in the first place.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - I just remember watching that Xmas Day game and thinking that the Lakers pretty well controlled the game, especially in the second half (LA had the lead for about 34 of the last 35 minutes of the game). They didn't blow them out the way they had the previous month, but for me that was the game that really made me think "this team has made a huge leap from last year," and a big part of that was Bynum. While you say he's been a tease due to his inconsistency, I would submit that generally his inconsistencies have been attributable to either being really young (in his first two seasons, when he was the league's youngest player), or injuries in these last two years. Both last year and this year up until he got hurt he was consistently putting up All Star caliber numbers. He also never really showed a proclivity for picking up quick fouls until this year after the injury, and some have attributed it to his just being unsure of himself out there with that brace on.

I will say that because of his youth and injuries it is hard to know what to expect from him though, so I'm not saying there haven't been inconsistencies. But considering the numbers Bynum was putting up in the month plus prior to his first injury last year, I think it's a safe bet to say that he wasn't gonna put up a 6/5 game.

I brought up Kwame Brown's turnovers (and the booing which ensued) because that was the Lakers' first home game (and second overall) after Bynum's injury, and because Kwame was kind of rushed back from his own injury back in December (which put Bynum in the starting lineup in the first place). The crowd booed so much because Kwame's poor play was such a stark contrast to the domination they'd gotten used to seeing from Bynum. Witness Kwame's first 5 minutes of the second half in that game (this is everything that he did that's recorded in the play by play):

11:40 Kwame Brown fouls Amare Stoudemire
11:22 Kwame Brown lost ball (Amare Stoudemire steals)
10:32 Kwame Brown makes 1 of 2 free throws
10:03 Kwame Brown traveling
9:37 Kwame Brown misses dunk
9:10 Kwame Brown lost ball (Steve Nash steals)
8:18 Kwame Brown misses layup
7:52 Kwame Brown bad pass (Shawn Marion steals)
7:16 Kwame Brown fouls Amare Stoudemire

Trust me, it made a huge difference. Instead of getting the 28/12 type game they'd had just a few weeks earlier from Bynum, they got Kwame's 8/6 game with 7 TOs and 5 fouls. Between the time that Bynum got hurt and the Lakers added Gasol they went through a stretch where they were 2-5, while the whole rest of the season they were 55-20. Believe me, you can throw that third game against Phoenix out when wondering how those Suns would have done against this year's Laker team.

So that's why I claimed (and still claim) that Arlen saying that D'Antoni's Suns would have given this year's Lakers some trouble is nonsense. However, you seem to be straddling the fence here, because while you're not backing what he said, you're just sort of refuting what I said. My main argument was that those Suns would get whipped by these Lakers, but you're nitpicking my use of the word "smoked" for a game the Lakers led most of the way in, and in which they pulled away down the stretch. That and you're pointing out that the Lakers with Kwame Brown as the starting center would probably have more trouble with those Suns, which should be obvious to anyone.

Whatever.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Wild Yams said: "Both last year and this year up until he got hurt he was consistently putting up All Star caliber numbers."

Look, 13/10 and 14/8 really aren't All-Star caliber numbers. They're good, solid numbers, no doubt, but All-Star big men typically have higher per-game averages and are more integral to their team's success. It would be more accurate to say that he put up All-Star caliber numbers in certain games, or for certain stretches. He has yet to put together a full season with All-Star numbers. For that matter, he's having trouble putting together a full season, period.

"However, you seem to be straddling the fence here, because while you're not backing what he said, you're just sort of refuting what I said. My main argument was that those Suns would get whipped by these Lakers, but you're nitpicking my use of the word 'smoked' for a game the Lakers led most of the way in, and in which they pulled away down the stretch."

I'm not straddling anything. I corrected a factual error in your first comment without making any counterargument. It's not nitpicking. What you said was wrong. "Smoked twice" is much different than "smoked once, close once (which it was, even if the Lakers were in control most of the game), lost once." It would seem someone who is responsibly linking to multiple box scores and transposing play-by-plays would WANT factual accuracy, right? I mean...right?

For the record, I don't think the January 2008 Suns could beat the June 2009 Lakers. But then, I never said they could. I was simply correcting facts, which is something you (and others) do with regularity on this site. That caused you to go into full-on Lakers Defense Mode when it really wasn't necessary. You even whatever'd me.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - What I said with Bynum was that before he got hurt (both last year and this year) was that he was consistently putting up All Star caliber numbers. I didn't mean his season stats reflected that, due to slow starts in both years (last year due to beginning the year on the bench behind Kwame, and this year due to coming back from injury). But look at the five games Bynum had preceding his injury this year:

21-Jan @Lac: 42 pts, 15 boards, 2 fouls
22-Jan Was: 23 pts, 14 boards, 1 foul
25-Jan Sas: 15 pts, 11 boards, 2 fouls
27-Jan Cha: 24 pts, 14 boards, 2 fouls
30-Jan @Min: 27 pts, 15 boards, 4 fouls

Keep in mind in that stretch he matched up with Emeka Okafur, Tim Duncan and Al Jefferson. IMO those numbers are All Star caliber numbers, and I doubt even you'd disagree. But then in the next game he got hurt and that was the last we saw of a healthy Bynum this year. So let's look at what he did the previous year in the games directly before his season-ending injury:

4-Jan Phi: 17 pts, 16 boards, 0 fouls
6-Jan Ind: 23 pts, 13 boards, 3 fouls
8-Jan @Mem: 12 pts, 9 boards, 2 fouls
9-Jan @Nor: 17 pts, 9 boards, 3 fouls
11-Jan Mil: 25 pts, 17 boards, 1 foul

That stretch included going against Dalembert, The Drain, Tyson Chandler and Andrew Bogut. Once again, I'd say those are All Star caliber numbers, especially at center.

You're right that he has yet to do this for a full season, and I won't argue that he's definitely been inconsistent; but IMO there have been very good reasons for his inconsistencies (youth first, and injuries later). I would be more inclined to say he's an injury risk than to say he's really up and down as a player when healthy. In any event, looking at what he did last year leading up to the injury (two games before that 3rd game against Phoenix), and considering just weeks earlier he'd gone for 28 & 12 against those same Suns, IMO it's a good bet that he would have produced more than just 6/5 with 5 fouls.

Look, I said they "smoked" them twice, and you brought up this third game, which I don't think has any bearing on a discussion of this year's Lakers given that neither Bynum nor Gasol played in that game. We evidently differ on whether the Lakers "smoked" the Suns in that Xmas Day game, but for me when one team holds the lead for almost the whole game and then pulls away down the stretch, that's a one-sided game. That's just semantics though. If I went into "full-on Lakers Defense Mode" it's mainly out of a desire to debate something, and it's slim pickens given the offseason. Be honest though, if you agreed with what I said about last year's Suns vs this year's Lakers, but thought I was being overly generous in my assessment of that second game, you probably could have just said that. But bringing up that third game is just silly, and that's why I "whatevered" you :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I wonder what Bryant is thinking in that pic watching those two yuk it up?

Anonymous dunkside said...
wow, you didn't just call a trade for deng AND hinrich a good one, did you ?

i mean, c'mon. deng is on the books for roughly twice what he's worth. and he seems to be injury prone, too. i'd rather have shaq's expiring right now than deng's long term deal.

and one other thing: how long are people gonna see "potential" in deng ? there's nothing left to see. he's reached his ceiling already. he might have already had his best season a couple of years ago. he's not athletic, he's not aggressive, he doesn't penetrate, he doesn't have range, he doesn't come up big in the crunch.

right now ariza (who'll probably get less than 10 mil per year) is worth so much more than deng. he brings all those things plus some great defense (much better than deng's).

hinrich is overpaid himself, but not as much as deng and his descending contract makes it more tradeable, but he still makes way too much to be just a back-up PG behind nash.

in fact, if the bulls would have pulled the deng + hinrich for shaq trade, it might have made me change my view of john paxson (from "totally incompetent" to "decent, might have learned something from his mistakes"). it would have been a major steal for the bulls, dumping their 2 bad contracts for an expiring and a chance to become a major player in the summer of 2010. i could see bosh and wade or lebron going to chicago to play with rose and a bunch of role players (tyrus, noah, salmons)

Anonymous dunkside said...
I am surprised that you of all people missed the *real* reason ferry traded for shaq.
nothing says "love" quite like "i'll trade ben wallace's rotting corpse for you".

Anonymous Arlen said...
Didn't realize I was gonna start something, but I guess brining up LA could always do that here. Too bad I never checked back in time.

For the record, because the record is recording this, I never said I thought the suns would win. I said it'd be fun to have had them around to compete with LA, as they csbeome history. I would expect LA to win, because the suns always caved in mind-games games. I mainly thought having the spurs not around when the whole point of their reorganizing was to compete against the spurs was pretty alanis-esque ironic. Gasol is a good matchup against them, but it would have been a good matchup with some drama. I thought the west coast 09 playoffs didn't have many surprises, except for LA struggling with staying focuses.

And just to be pesky, you can't bring up bynum and then not mention how off he seemed in 09 playoffs, which would render the point moot. Also, the 08 suns were already on their way out. Before the shaq trade is was pretty known that the owner and GM-team had given up on SSOL and dantoni, so their play was definitely effected. The 08 suns were playing like zombies, so I was more thinking 07 (hoping that the 08 team would be similar if only management supported the coach and players).
Just for fun, lets also say they traded Amare for Garnett. And they still had joe johnson.

Anyways, i doubt anyone is still checking this so I get to have the last word woohoo! Also, I probably will forget to check back later to see how my little what-ifs are dissected

Anonymous Arlen said...
And just to play with myself for a bit: the Lakers were 4-0 against Houston during the season. Yet, even without kneemac(ohnoes) and Yao the series went 7 games. So its tough to say what would happen in the playoffs. And drama doesn't mean games. there's plenty of 7-game matchups with no drama.
Even having shaq's lakers instead of Utah would have been more fun, no? Although, I can't decide what I'd want more: the real version (shaq couldnt help suns get into playoffs) or a fake version: Shaq squeezes into 8th spot, but gets killed by LA.
I'm not a kobe fan, but him giving shaq a direct taste of a$$ would have been pretty neat.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Spacing issues? Try a little Orlando style Magic. Bron as PF. Shaq/Ilgauskas in the middle. Williams as PG, West as SG. Still need an SF though. Maybe that's why they drafted Eyenga.

Blogger Fishy said...
I don't understand why Wild Yams went crazy. He just corrected an error! Chill! He would've done the same thing if it was any other team (at least I like to think he would)

We just won a championship, who cares how or why we lost or won games to the Suns during the regular season! You can always debate if one team could beat another in a playoff series if they never played each other (well, they did, but not the with the current Laker roster).

On a side note, I can't believe we still talk about Kwame Brown in Lakerland too. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one trying to forget that whole saga.

Blogger David Robinson said...
i just re read this, and would appreciate a reply at dhrobins@gmail.com from either Anaconda or 'bawful if they read this again. its great to read how terrible the suns were going to be in 09-10 and then know now how AWESOME they were. any thoughts on that? to me its awesome.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Two things: We assumed Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic would get playing time in Suns, and there was clearly addition by removal. Second, Robin Lopez's fantastic play and Dragic's emergence as a defensive bench PG capable of getting his shot and driving to the hoop. For some quantitative measure of how consistently good Robin Lopez was last season, check out his appearances against average defenses and against top/bottom defences.

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