Thursday, February 7, 2008

Odds and Ends for a Thursday

There's a lot of topics that I want to talk about today, so I thought I'd do a little bullets format today to get through them all. Hope you enjoy.

  • Shaq to Phoenix: Was it really needed Phoenix? This is a Suns team that only missed the Western Conference Finals last year because of bogus officiating by Tim Donaghy. They gave away their best post defender, Kurt Thomas, in the offseason to save money, and now they bring in Shaq, who's making 20 mil/yr? Obviously, Shaq is the better player, but he is worth the extra money, giving up Shawn Marion, and the 2 first round picks given to Seattle? No, absolutely not, not at this point in his career. O'Neal has produced at carer-lows for a second consecutive season and shows no signs of being able to run in Phoenix's offense. I watched today's press conference and Shaq said all the right things about wanting to make his teammates better, igniting the break, etc. But, when it comes to the actual game, he is a shell of his former self and can no longer defend the West's elite big men like Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, and Carlos Boozer. O'Neal is basically a last-ditch effort by Steve Kerr to get this current Suns core to the Finals. Nash, Hill, and Bell aren't getting any younger, and Marion had already expressed his desire to follow Joe Johnson out of the Southwest. Kerr had to do something because Marion was going to leave this summer anyway. But, to give up an electric wing who can rebound like a PF for an aging overweight and gimpy center reeks of panic.
  • Also, as bad as this looks for Phoenix, this trade was amazing for Miami. To get out of O'Neal's final two years and get Marion and Marcus Banks in return was a steal. Banks will get every opportunity to unseat Jason Williams at point guard because, seriously, is Chris Quinn really their PG of the future? Marion can still opt out of his contract this summer, but that gives Miami the ability to either resign him and build around him and Wade or let him go and use the cap space to sign someone else. Faced with the unenviable task of rebuilding an aging and one-dimensional roster, Pat Riley and Heat ownership just swindled the Suns into taking away their biggest problem.
  • The Pistons didn't surprise me last night against Miami. This Pistons team of recent memory has always played up/down to its opponents. Witness the Bobcats surprisingly good record against Detroit in past years. Detroit just doesn't seem to care when it comes to playing the lower rung of the NBA. Wade got his 30 points, that's not the problem. The problem comes when people like Mark Blount, Dorell Wright, and Alexander Johnson combine for 39 points and 21 rebounds. These games are inevitable in the long NBA winter, but the Pistons are a good enough team to at least win by 10.
  • Welcome back Dickie V. It was a perfect scenario for his return from vocal chord surgery in Chapel Hill last night. Unfortunately, the magnitude was lessened a bit by Ty Lawson's injury. That combined with backup PG Bobby Frasor's leg injury earlier this year, and UNC was down to 3rd-string PG Quentin Thomas. His inexperience was obvious all game long, as evidenced by his 6 turnovers and 4 fouls. What surprised me more was the production from the Heels' other guards, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green. They shot 4-24 in a game where Duke shot 45% just from long range. Their inability to match the Duke guards killed UNC when it needed big shots. The Heels' advantage inside was also limited throughout the game. In pregame predictions, the media constantly hyped UNC's inside prowess compared to Duke's superior guard play. Even though Tyler Hansbrough put up 28 and 18, he scored much of that on jump shots and was only 4-9 from the FT line. His supporting cast was nonexistent. Deon Thompson was plagued with foul trouble all game long and Alex Stepheson was a turnover machine in his 13 minutes (5 miscues). With the inside threat neutralized, Duke used its versatility and balance (6 players in double figures) to wear down UNC and pull away in the end.
  • A few posts ago, I talked about the brilliance of K-St forward Michael Beasley. What'd he do last night? Oh, nothing except 35 points on 15-21 shooting, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 3-pointers. And his supporting cast continues to help him as Bill Walker put up 17 and 9 and Jacob Pullen scored 11 and dished out 8 assists.
  • Anyone looking for baseball steroid coverage or Patriots spy scandal news won't find anything here. This thing is an absolute joke. Our government has larger problems than some ballplayers using steroids or NFL teams spying on other teams. Until something is definitively proven and the actual sport is affected, I don't care. I root for Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa. I could care less about steroid usage, which wasn't even illegal in baseball when they allegedly used it. And besides, what is a Cortisone shot? It's a steroid and nobody seems to care about those. It's modern medicine and it's going to keep progressing and there's nothing baseball can do to stunt it. Better surgical procedures, LASIK, contacts, playing conditions, travel accomodations, and video equipment have all made today's players better. Why only look at steroids?


Anonymous said...

Dan - good reading and I agree on the Miami - Phoenix trade. Miami wins that trade all day long.

pcs said...

Dan-I totally agree with the steroid issue. It's part of the game along with all the other advancements. To quote George Costanza, " You can't stop modern
science. Can't stop it, you can't stop it. Can't stop science. Can't be stopped, no way, no how."

Joe Boylan said...

Shaq is a shell of his former self when he is playing on the worst team in the League. On a team with a chance to win the title? With Steve Nash at the point? I think you'll see a very different Shaq after the All-Star break this year. Amare has proven he cannot defend any of the West's elite bigs...hell even the above average bigs. He'll be much better off the ball like he was during the stretches they played with Kurt Thomas last year when they actually looked like a decent defensive team. The difference is Kurt didn't also demand a double team in the halfcourt offense.

As you can tell, I like any move a team makes that gives them a fighter's chance to win the title -- especially when their previous roster really didn't. Were the Suns gonna beat the Spurs again, with no Kurt Thomas to defend Duncan? Or the Lakers?