It has been a startling and dramatic 24 hours in the NBA. Thankfully, Andrew Gibney has written this great overview to bring us all up-to-date on the latest revelations...
It was announced today that the Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns have made moves that will see eight players wear different jerseys come next week.
Former All-Star Rashard Lewis has moved to the Washington Wizards traded for bad boy and trouble maker Gilbert Arenas. The headline making move though comes from the six player trade between the Magic and the Suns.
The Suns have sent forward Hedo Turkoglu, guard Jason Richardson and second year forward Earl Clark to Orlando for forwards Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, centre Marcin Gortat and a future first round pick plus cash.
Turkoglu has moved back to the team where he played his most successful basketball, reaching the NBA finals in 2009 with the Orlando Magic. It is thought that the Suns have been disappointed with the Turkish forward’s play so far this season. Thoughts were that he could play the Power Forward role combining his size with his superb ball handling and shooting skills.
The failure to click with talisman Steve Nash and with Goran Dragic seemingly losing his spark since Hedo’s arrival will soften the blow for Phoenix fans worried about this trade.
Earl Clark had a bright reputation from his college days at Louisville but had yet to show this potential in a Suns shirt. He could have a great career ahead of him in the league but with Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, and Hakim Warrick ahead of him in the rotation Clark was never going to get time on the floor to develop.
Losing Jason Richardson is a big loss to the line-up. He is currently the Suns highest scorer with an average of 19.3 PPG. However, to make these type of trades work you would never pick up an All-Star like Vince Carter without giving up a large piece of the puzzle. The question is can Vince Carter regain the scoring abilities he showed at New Jersey and Toronto or have the Suns taken a gamble on a falling star?
The Magic line-up will look vastly different once all the trades go through. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson joined with Hudo Turkoglu and old Golden State buddies Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson could be a very exciting set of starters. The problems could come when they have to turn to the bench.
Currently sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference the Suns needed to change things to get their season back on track. With a 12-13 record this season it is not too late to go on a charge, the trades are quite risky but might just work in their bid to revitalise their campaign.
The biggest question is whether Vince Carter still has the talent to play at a high level. If Coach Alvin Gentry can resurrect the Carter we all know and love from his New Jersey Nets days then it could be a phenomenal move. If the Carter we saw at the Magic arrives then it could make the move a disaster. There is a safety net that Carter’s contract is only guarantees $4 million next season after the $18 million paid this season.
Vince Carter this season is averaging 15.1 PPG, a massive 7.6 points down on his career average. Not since the Nets days has he averaged over 20 PPG. At New Jersey Carter excelled in a team that saw him link up with Jason Kidd. Steve Nash could prove to be the catalyst that gives Carter the ammunition to bring a spark to the desert.
Marcin Gortat adds much needed size to the Suns inside game; the 6’10” centre has been muted in the past as the “best back-up centre in the NBA”. He got rewarded with a new $34 million contract after his performances in the 2009 Finals. He may not become a scoring threat for the Suns but he is a much needed defensive option and rebounding threat.
At Orlando Mickael Pietrus, like Gortat, played his best basketball in 2009 but has been plagued with injuries since then. Averaging less than 9 PPG at first glance he doesn’t seem like a good offensive option. With Mickael shooting nearly 40% from the 3-point line this season and the Suns shoot-on-sight policy philosophy there is a chance he could flourish though.
The Suns now have a strong 10-man rotation. Nash, Carter, Grant Hill, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez will likely start most games. Dragic is the natural replacement for Nash. Pietrus and Jared Dudley could come off the bench and add the shooting fire power.
Hakim Warrick and Gortat would be fantastic back-ups for Lopez and Frye and give a much stronger presence near the basket. Coach Gentry could link Gortat and Lopez together for a formidable inside combination. With Dudley and Pietrus on the perimeter the Suns haven’t had a stronger perimeter defence since Raja Bell and Boris Diaw were in the line-up.
There are quite a few ifs and buts’ about this trade from a Suns point of view. The squad looks stronger, add to the mix Josh Childress who is also averaging 17 minutes a game and the Suns look an impressive eleven men deep.
Reaching the play-offs is a must for the Phoenix Suns; if the moves work it will be seen as a master-stroke by President of Basketball Operation Lon Babby. If they finish outside the eighth play-off spot the decision to trade the team’s top scorer will in this dramatic trade will come under heavy scrutiny.
You can find Andy over at the Gib Football Show, for which he does a fantastic, award-nominated, football podcast and you can follow him on Twitter.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...