by Jack Maidment
“I think that move was looked at as a white flag of surrender. We didn’t get anything back in that trade in terms of bodies, of players that we intended to keep. But the truth is that move gave us the financial flexibility to move forward and improve in a subtle way.”
The immortal words of Steve Kerr, the Phoenix Sun’s General Manager, when asked to illuminate the benefits of the deal that sent Shaquille O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers in return for a pack of skittles and some squeezy cheese.
Any time that a GM uses phrases like improving in a ‘subtle way’ after trading one of the League’s best ever succeeds in doing only one thing: providing a growing list of detractors and haters who would happily wave goodbye to Kerr’s entirely controversial tenure in Arizona with even more reason to doubt the direction that the Sun’s are headed.
In the NBA, the words ‘financial flexibility’ are acknowledged as code for ‘save lots of money’, but the fact that such a message is emanating from one of the A’s more successful franchises is cause for bemusement.
It isn’t like watching the Memphis Grizzlies go after Allen Iverson strictly for ticket sales purposes regardless of how he wont fit with the team itself. Financial motives are supposed to be restricted to the lower echelons, not the Suns.
That’s why the situation in Phoenix is weird rather than sad. The vision of the team that was so solid two years ago has officially gone missing. It’s like the compass has been smashed and they have been left rudderless, unsure as to what direction they should head.
Clearing cap room by moving O’Neal would suggest the Sun’s are keen to rebuild rather than re-tool immediately otherwise they would have pursued a deal in which they received something of use for Shaq: there must be faith in Robin Lopez to grow with no other center on the horizon.
Yet re-upping Steve Nash for 2 years and oodles of noodles is hardly the move of a team looking to the future. For Nash, the winning has to start now, but the situation in Phoenix hardly looks conducive to producing the Canadian the rings that he deserves.
This contradiction doesn’t even take into account Amare Stoudamire’s belief that his chances of staying in the Valley of the Sun are 50/50.
What it is to be a Sun’s fan.