On Friday, Dec. 17 the Phoenix Suns agreed on a six player blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic. The Suns sent leading scorer Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark to Orlando for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus and Orlando’s 2011 first round draft pick. This trade has been described as surprising, shocking, needed, great, unnecessary and brilliant. Of course a couple of those words are intended for one side more than the other. The Greg One has a different word for this trade.
There should be no way the Suns could have made a worse trade than the Shaquille O’Neal for Shawn Marion deal that went down a few years ago, but this one is on its way there. The Suns were sitting at .500 after a brutal first month where they endured a murderers row of 50-win playoff teams from last season. Any team in the league would be content with that result. Not thrilled, but content. After replacing Amar’e Stoudemire with three players, it was obvious the team was not going to gel overnight. The team had taken steps forward and steps back but the team showed potential to make the playoffs. Now this, the first blockbuster trade of the season and the Suns are on the short end of the stick. Let’s take a look at the particulars.
Carter is a shell of his former self and don’t be surprised if he’s gone before the end of the season. When he is healthy, he makes the highlight reel, but that is part of the problem. The man is never healthy! He spend too much time trying to win the slam dunk contest before the All-Star break and as a result he makes Sportscenter, but at the expense of his knees, back and ankles. Carter is as selfish a player as they come and that will not fly in this system. If he is to succeed in Phoenix, he needs to lob Richardson a call and get the knowledge on how to be the lead dog WITHIN the team concept. Orlando is happy to get riddle of his brittle carcass and the Suns are happy with him because he can fill in J-Rich’s position and his contract will be up at the end of the season. My prediction is Carter will have some injury that will cause him to miss the last four to six weeks of the season. Its just what he does.
Gortat is seen as the prize in the deal for the Suns. Gortat is a 6-11 center from Poland, who is known for his defense and hustle. The Dallas Mavericks tried to sign him to a five-year deal in the offseason before the Magic matched the deal so the buzz word on Gortat is potential. In his third season in the league, he has the greatest upside. Sitting behind Dwight Howard, Gortat doesn’t have much to do. In his three seasons he averages 13 minutes a game where he has averaged four rebounds and less than four points a game. His block, steal and assist average is under one. One thing is for sure. The Suns haven’t had a guy on the bench in worse need of a tan since Joe Kleine.
Pietrus is also known for his defense. He was a key component in Orlando’s title run a few seasons ago. Pietrus showed he could guard the opposing small forward guarding Paul Pierce, LeBron James and Jamal Crawford on a nightly basis once the playoffs roll around. He does shoot over 35 percent from behind the three-point line and shoots over 43 percent from the field. The bad news is he is a below 70 percent free-throw shooter and can’t create his own shot. If in the right system, he could be better than what he’s showed so far, but in his seventh year in the league, I have my reservations.
The Suns did impress me by getting Orlando’s 2011 first round pick. Obviously it will be in the 20’s somewhere, but that means the Suns will be able to pull two blue chip players from the upcoming draft pool to help reshape this team for the future. A positive sign, but where does that leave the Suns for the rest of this season?
The Orlando Magic get a proven commodity in Richardson. J-Rich has been outstanding this season as one of the few consistent players on the team. Richardson creates his own shot, gets to the basket with ferocity and has a deft shooting touch. Once Richardson gets acclimated to the system in Orlando, the Magic will be better than the other Florida team that has been getting all the publicity.
The Magic also got Clark in the deal. Clark was the Suns first round draft pick in 2009 and just hasn’t managed to see time on the floor. No harm, no foul. Speaking of potential blue chippers, the Suns may have just handed one over to the Magic. It won’t be the first time the Suns have let a star get away. Rajon Rondo and Rudy Fernandez are two that come to mind.
Turkoglu was the final piece of the deal. He has been a lost cause since he left Orlando two seasons ago and his game was absent during his time in Phoenix. The Suns were fortunate they found someone to take Turk’s contract off their hands. At least the Suns brass is smart enough to admit they made a mistake and moved to correct it. The maddening part is Helen Keller could see that Turkoglu should never have been tapped to fill Stoudemire”s spot and that has cost the Suns where it counts the most, in the win column. The Magic was the only place where Turkoglu fit and even Howard admitted to missing Turkoglu.
In the end, the Magic get exactly the pieces they need to get back to the Finals. They get their power forward production in Turkoglu, a perimeter scorer to compliment Howard’s inside dominance and depth in the post with Clark to fill in the few minutes that were reserved for Gortat. Conversely, the Suns got a bag of magic beans. They got another bench player with Pietrus. The bench is the one place where the Suns don’t need help. They got the promise of the future with Gortat and they got a brittle, fragile and selfish player in Carter. A team that was starting to gel under the pressure of playing top level teams night in and night out has been disassembled again and its going to take even more time to make these new pieces fit in. The Suns have just gone from a seventh seed to a lottery team if someone in the front office or coaching staff doesn’t provide some real direction fast.
Sound off Suns Zoo! Agree or disagree?