Do the Big Trades Change the Playoff Outlook?
In case you have spent the last week in the Northeast under a pile of snow and ice and your power has been out, you may have noticed a couple of seven-foot men changing scenery. Pau Gasol has somehow made his way to Los Angeles, and perhaps even more strangely, Shaq has found himself in Phoenix. The important moves, though, are the ones you may not have paid as much attention to.
The first, and probably biggest, is the fact that Shawn Marion is now a member of the Miami Heat. The Suns have been trying to move him for quite some time as they continue to look like the Oakland Athletics of the NBA, and they finally found a suitor. The fact is, the trade was entirely one-sided by way of the Heat. Marion instantly brings energy and talent to a team that has been zombies all season. Now all of a sudden Wade, Marion and Haslem make the Heat into a once again dangerous team in a weak Eastern Conference. It may sound silly to say, but even with their 9-38 record they still have a mathematical chance at making the playoffs. And who do they have to go through? Washington, Orlando, Charlotte? Would it really be that difficult with the addition of a perennial all-star?
And what exactly did the Suns get? An overweight, overpaid former league changer? I guess if the Suns were planning on only putting four guys on defense and letting Shaq just stand down at the other end of the court, they made a good move. Shaq has enough trouble getting from the court to the end of the bench, let alone up and down the floor as many times as Phoenix does over the course of the game. He’ll be seeing shorter shifts than hockey players by next week. I think the only thing trading for Shaq does to Phoenix is send them downhill. They won’t hold onto the best record in the Conference. I’ll be impressed if they even hold onto a playoff spot. The West has the talented big men to deal with Shaq, especially at age sixty…
The other big move no one noticed that will make a huge impact is Utah acquiring Kyle Korver from Philadelphia. Korver was one of the most underrated 76ers and now he heads to a team aching for a great outside scorer. Giricek was not quite the player the Jazz hoped he would be, and just didn’t fit well into their system. Now they bring in another scoring threat for Williams to get the ball to and instantly the offense improves. They have won their last ten games and are scoring well over 100 points a night in 2008. Korver will fit very well into their offense and they suddenly become a team that can outscore anyone in the league. Utah can easily keep up with Dallas and Phoenix now, and may even surpass them. You may think that I have no idea what I’m talking about, but you just wait; Kyle Korver will end up being the biggest trade steal this season.
A steal it’s hard to argue with is Gasol in Los Angeles. It will make Kobe Bryant want to play well and should give him another option. It lets Odom move down and gives him a major mismatch against most teams. Gasol is also the type of player who can show up and take over games. That being said, he’s also the type of player who can mail it in and disappear and that probably won’t please Sir Bryant. It will make for a little drama in Los Angeles (but when haven’t they liked that?) and will certainly translate in plenty of wins to make up for it.
Overall, I’m not really sure what Phoenix and Memphis were thinking, but I would expect them both to head straight downhill…or rather, the Grizzlies will remain at the bottom of the hill and wait for Phoenix to join them…Los Angeles and Utah become even stronger in the West, and suddenly the days of Phoenix, Dallas and San Antonio look like they may be slipping away. In the East, Philadelphia gets worse and Miami once again becomes a powerhouse. Things could get very interesting in the West after the All-Star break hits. I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely excited to see the playoff race between Utah, Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans and San Antonio. I’m not sure I can remember a time with so many great teams out West.