Shawn Marion was traded for Shaquille O’Neal on Wednesday and Tim Kempton explains why this could help push the Suns to a championship. (NBAE Photos)
He’s going to be missed on the court, too. He’s been here a long time and there’s a reason for that. Although there have been a lot of rumors in recent years about the Suns trading him, he is a unique player and brought a lot to this team. He’s a guy that can defend several positions. He’s a guy that gets out on the break. He’s only 6-7, but he’s always among the league leaders in rebounding. And no matter what people say about that crazy shot of his, he has increased his range and can score from the three-point line.
If you’re going to give up a Shawn Marion, you have to get someone who’s going to come in here and make a splash, and I think Shaquille O’Neal will make that splash on and off the court.
Shaq is the most dominant player of all time. His sheer size and strength just overwhelms teams. Sure, he might not be the same player he was in his prime, but he will take away that whole lane area where the Suns have been weakest.
People aren’t going to come in there and take over the glass anymore. Even if Shaq just stands there, his size alone will keep people out of there and he will gather rebounds. So from that standpoint we get very strong in an area where we were very weak, the interior defense.
We don’t have to come and double team the opponent’s big man anymore either. Everybody can stay home on their man now. This move also makes Amare Stoudemire the weak-side defender, where he is very, very good, averaging over two blocks a game. Now Amare becomes all that much better because he doesn’t have to play in the post and he can play his natural forward position. Playing the four spot, he’ll be away from the basket a little bit more, which will help him get down the floor even quicker than he does now.
Speaking of getting down the floor, I’ve heard a lot of people saying that the Suns’ high-speed offense is now dead, but I don’t think so at all. If anything, our fastbreaks should increase. I think we’ll get more defensive rebounds now and defensive rebounds only lead to more run-outs, as Shaq can pass it out to Nash or Hill on the break, and trail them down the floor.
I think Shaq is disappointed with the way things have gone as of late down in Miami. He is a very competitive person, but sometimes when you are in a place too long, you do get lackadaisical. They’ve already won a championship there and they’re really struggling as a team this season.
Pat Riley’s practices are no day at the park, either. It’s a very, very tough place to play in Miami, so if you’re a little sore, that makes you a LOT sore, and then you have to go out there and play 82 games. That’s not to say he shut it down or anything, but that it’s got to be difficult to stay motivated on a bad team when you’re hurting.
I don’t know what’s going on physically with him, of course. That’s why the physical the Suns put him through today was so important, to find out how hurt or banged up he really is. But I’ll tell you what, Aaron Nelson and Mike Elliot, our athletic training staff, has done a phenomenal job with guys here. Just ask Antonio McDyess, who has credited Aaron and the Suns’ partnership with NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) for helping him during his second stint in Phoenix. Ask Amare about their work with him following his microfracture a couple seasons ago. Ask Grant Hill about his experience with the guys since he joined the team. Shaq will be another big project for them.
Like Shawn, I’ve got to add that Shaq is a wonderful guy. I actually know him quite well. We lived in the same neighborhood in Orlando before I moved out here, and we hung out on the water. The big fella had all the toys and we would take them out on the Butler Chain, the lakes down there in Orlando, riding jet skis. That was a blast.
Shaq’s a really big kid at heart. Although it’s tough to say goodbye to Shawn, I think you’re really going to enjoy this guy.