Thursday, February 26, 2009

Some Tips on How to Fix the Clips

"I've taught you well young Jedi..."

As shown Wednesday night with their victory over the defending champion Celtics, the Clippers, when healthy and motivated, have enough talent to play with anyone. True, Boston was without Kevin Garnett. True, Paul Pierce hurt his thumb. True, the Cs were in the last game of a four-game westcoast road trip against some stiff competition (Utah, Denver and, er, Phoenix?).

Even still, the Clips were without Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon missed most of the second half with a bruised shoulder thanks to a nasty pick by Kendrick Perkins.

So, how to fix the Clips?

Obviously, a coaching change, or at least a coaching philosophy change is the most glaring necessity. Baron Davis needs to be allowed to do his thing on offense. On defense is another matter. This off-season, if Mike Dunleavy doesn’t fire himself, he should swallow his pride and strike up a deal between him and Baron that challenges BD to put in the effort and leadership on the defensive end every night. If Boomdizzle complies, he’ll be given the keys to the offense without any input from daddy Dunleavy.

Sounds like a fair compromise. I mean, this team is built to run. Zach Randolph flourished under Mike D’Antoni. Camby is a great passer and manned the middle in Denver’s top-rated, up-tempo offense the last couple of years. And Baron had his best seasons playing Nelly ball.

But that's on offense. The team's first priority should be focusing on becoming a defensive juggernaut. All the tools are there. A physical, athletic point guard. A gritty, scrappy young shooting guard. And a former defensive player of the year (Camby) as well as a 7-foot rebounding machine (Kaman). Sure, Randolph is a lost cause on defense, but Camby helped hide Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony last year. Covering for one out of five should be a breeze in comparison. In fact, they could pair off Randolph and Camby as the starting front court and Kaman and Jordan as the bench mob bigs.

All that’s left to shore up is the horrific, offensively inefficient black hole small forward spot. Notice how up top I neglected to mention that Al Thornton missed the game as a reason for the Clippers to be excited? That was intentional because frankly, it was probably this very reason that Clips had a shot to win in the first place.

I was of the opinion that Al Thornton was going to mature into a real basketball player this year. You can look at his 17 points per game and say, wow, he’s gotten a lot better from last season. Or you can look at the fact that his scoring rate has slightly gone down from 18.6 to 18.1 that his PER has actually gotten worse (12.3 from 12.5 a year ago) and that his three point percentage has fallen off a cliff. You will also notice that despite 10 more minutes per game, he’s only upped his other statistical averages slightly: 0.2 steals, 0.3 assists, 0.4 blocks and only 1 rebound (5.5 total for a 6-8 small forward with mad hops).

Kevin Arnotz over at Clipperblog has a very insightful analysis on the trouble with the Clippers small forward spot.

Thornton doesn’t shoot the three well at all (26 percent). He’s a definite ball stop who rarely ever passes (ranks 57th out of all small forwards in assist rate). He’s not an efficient scorer (ranked 38 out of all eligible small forwards in PER), getting to the line only 3.6 times per game despite his incredible leaping ability. Basically, he hoists up turn around jumpers all game. Plus, he’s a miserable defender who often looks lost to boot. If it wasn't for the lack of freethrows and passion to get to the rim, he's like the more inefficient version of Corey Maggette.

Has 17 point per game ever been more of a mirage?

Here’s an idea, the Clips need to scrap the Thornton project going forward. The Clippers, who didn’t move any pieces for expiring contracts despite the fact that they probably could have, have an opportunity to pick up some assets this off-season thanks to the horrible economic climate. Teams are selling low. Dunleavy needs to bargain hunt and Sterling needs to open up his pocket books just a little bit more taking on extra salary in order to field a team that could be very, very good.

For example, a player like Gerald Wallace would be ideal. He’s athletic, can kind of shoot the three, and is a great defender when not pressed to be the focal point on offense. He’d flourish running next to BD, as long as Dunleavy would be willing to let Baron do his thing. A Wallace deal might actually work out because he was being shopped hard (until his injury) this trade deadline.

Kaman for Wallace might not interest the Cats despite their desire for an offensive big to pair with Okafor, but the salaries are identical and the fit couldn’t be more perfect for both squads. Both have some questions—Wallace’s health, Kaman’s mental capacity (and health too)—but there’s no denying that if everything works out, both teams will be much better for making the trade.

A starting five of Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Gerald Wallace, Zach Randolph and Marcus Camby? That could be a fierce defensive unit. The bench wouldn't be elite, but it wouldn't be that bad consisting of Al Thornton, DeAndre Jordan, Steve Novak, Mike Taylor and perhaps Ricky Davis and Brian Skinner. That team would be tough to beat and could even, if squinting in a certain light, be a championship contender...okay, well at least a second round playoff team.

Another guy who could work, and I know this sounds kind of weird since the Clips aren't quite championship material, but James Posey would be a really nice fit. Sure, by the end of his contract he'll be horrible, hell, the Hornets are already regretting his signing, but he has all the right tools to make the Clips a sick defensive team.

And with nearly $20 million left on his deal, the Hornets will be looking even harder this off-season to find cap relief (see attempted Chandler trade)

The Clips should have the necessary contracts to make that deal happen in three of the following: Mardy Collins, decent but by no means the answer; Ricky Davis, who will most likely exercise his player option because of how horribly he's played this year and the lack of a market for him next year due to the down economy and his rep as a problem child; Brian Skinner, ditto with the player option, but more because he sucks than anything personally bad about him; and/or Al Thornton.

Despite the anti-Thornton sentiment already posted, keeping Al would be better than getting rid of him. He’s got a fairly reasonable contract and is still young enough (I guess) to discover honest-to-goodness basketball skills to pair with his incredible athleticism.

In fact, if the Clips do get Posey for Skinner, Ricky and Collins, the Clips would have an incredibly deep roster with a credible backup at every position.

That’s a lot of money for a known penny-pinching, non-active owner to invest in a horrible economy on a 15-43 squad destined for a top five pick in next year’s draft lottery. But, defense wins championships, and the Clips could be one of the best defensive teams with health and the right small forward.

Of course, Ron Artest is going to be a free agent as well...and he's shooting that long ball a lot better this season.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stats, Stats, Stats.

By now, everyone has read the Michael Lewis New York Times piece on the importance of Shane Battier. If not, here it is.

Lewis points out the different problems with the current way of rating players, namely by the stats that are available. With all the new mathematical formulas being produced by guys like John Hollinger, David Berri, Daryl Morey, etc., it’s a mystery why the NBA doesn’t simply begin accumulating basic stats and widening its scope with what stats are relevant.

Money and star power drive the NBA, and most stars are created by the numbers they put up, which leads them to getting paid more. In the case of some players (Corey Maggette I’m looking at you), better stats doesn’t always figure into a better team or a better game, or, on a larger scale, a better NBA.

This being the case, instead of trying to tell players that playing Basketball A is better than playing Basketball B, simply expand the stats and give relevance to aspects of the game that don’t include scoring, but most certainly affect and shape how the ball gets into the basket (or doesn’t).

The problem with the current stats in the NBA is that there simply aren’t enough of them. In professional baseball, you can track how many times a guy gets a hit when he’s playing outside, at night, when the temperature is 62 degrees in the month of April. The NBA doesn’t need that sort of analysis, but expanding past points, rebounds and assists is a definite must and should have happened years ago.

There are almost no truly helpful defensive statistics to speak of. A guy like Battier should get paid more if he contributes to winning, which would ultimately encourage other players, up-and-coming players, children still learning, to play the game “the right way.”

The biggest blemish on Michael Jordan’s influence, was that his game and subsequent fame created a whole generation of ballers who tried to emulate him but lacked the skill to do so. I mean, nobody’s Jordan—Kobe and Lebron included.

Hence, a generation of a bunch of me-first, shoot-first, ball hogs, who, to the detriment of the league, were handsomely rewarded for the number of points they put up.

This is just a basic beginning, and comments and suggestions are encouraged. But I’ve put together a list of both defensive and offensive statistics that would infinitely benefit the NBA.


1.) Possession Change Blocks (PCBlk): Blocks that lead directly to possession of the ball.

-Blocks (Blk): Blocks that result in a missed shot, but where the offensive player retains the ball.

2.) Possession Change Deflections (PCD): Deflections or tipped balls that result in a change of possession (similar to a steal).

-Steals: When a player directly takes the ball away or intercepts a ball from the other team thus resulting in a change of possession.

3.) Out of Bounds Deflections (OBD): Deflections or tipped balls that go out of bounds.

4.) Turnovers Forced (ToF): When a defensive player hounds a ball handler and it leads to some sort of turnover—bad pass, travel, three seconds, etc. Includes double teams.

5.) Offensive Fouls Drawn (OFD): Charges taken.

6.) Block fouls (BF): Due to the subjective nature of blocks/charges, record the number of defensive blocking fouls. A defensive player who amasses 3 blocking fouls is of a higher value than someone who commits 3 touch fouls.

-Personal Fouls (PF): Would be the total accumulation of fouls.

7.) Shots Contested (SC): Any time a player puts up a hand within a foot of an offensive player shooting. Would most certainly be up for personal opinion by the score keeper, but it would at least give an indication as to how many times a player actually does this.

8.) Changed Shots: Any time a player causes an offensive player to adjust his shot, pass out or miss his shot.

9.) Defensive stops: An accumulation of the times a team gets a stop given to every individual player on defense at the time. Will somewhat account for zone defenses and include possessions that end with missed freethrows. This stat would by no means be perfect, but it’s a more exact indicator than +/- and would have nothing to do with offensive output.


1.) Fouls Drawn: Records how many times an offensive player gets fouled. Includes non-shooting fouls.

2.) Mega Assist: Assist leading directly to a dunk or layup (alley-oop)

3.) Free throw Assist: Assist that leads to freethrows (1/2 assist for 1 made freethrow, 1 assist for both made freethrows).

4.) Outlet Pass: Number of times player receives ball and throws past half-court.

5.) Assist-Assist (Hockey Assist): Assist given to a pass that comes before the pass that leads to a made bucket.

6.) Screen Assist: Any screen set that directly ends with an offensive basket made.

7.) Double Team Drawn: The number of times player attracts two active defenders.

A lot of these new stats are really subjective, but the only truly non-subjective stats are made buckets. Even rebounds can get hazy when it comes to tapping it to oneself (think the Rodman rebound). Some of the stats, like Possession Change Deflections and block fouls would change the way we look at steals and fouls, but change is needed, if not entirely good.

Ask Obama.

Subjectivity is a part of basketball whether we like it or not. And no matter how closely we scrutinize referees or how many replays or how many refs we throw out on the court, there will always be blown calls.

In my opinion, Chris Paul commits an offensive foul every time down the court. Ryan Schwan of Hornes247 might believe Paul’s just a crafty devil. Either way, Paul initiates contact and the majority of the time gets the call.

The same subjective nature of fouls called could be said about Shaq. And Lebron. Etc.

What these stats I’ve proposed would do, despite a relative amount of subjectivity involved, is improve the way we record the game and give greater insight into the level of talent and skill that each and every player has on the court.

I mean, why else would a brilliant mind like Jerry Sloan play Jarron Collins 10 minutes a game?

Stats should be able to tell us why.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some Thoughts on the Trade Deadline

Yawn...Kind of like masturbating without, well, without the grand finale.

Vince Carter stayed put. Raef Lafrentz’s expiring was held onto. Wally World is currently on his hands and knees thanking every known deity. Amare and Bosh are still in Phoenix and Toronto. Even a slightly better than marginal difference maker like Richard Jefferson didn’t move. The Wizards are exactly the same.

I had a whole post about Tyson Chandler that you can check here, but that had to be scrapped because, well, that trade was scrapped.

Alston to the Magic still doesn’t make them a legit contender (not anything close to what Nelson did), but it gets them out of the first round now. Watch out for that Rocket defense to suddenly start imposing its will on teams. Kyle Lowry is a pitbull defender and lightning quick. Shane Battier’s rounding back into shape. And now that T-Mac is out for the season, Artest will move back into the starters roll. That defense could be 22-win-streak good. Potentially anyway.

Thabo Sefolosha to the Thunder was a great pickup. If Chandler was on their team, despite my post about him not being that good, would have made OKC by far and away the undisputed winners of this year’s deadline. As it is, they still might be. Sefolosha gives them a wing who can defend. He’s 24, so there’s a possibility that shooting stroke develops with more consistent playing time.

The Kings cut a lot of salary for next year. Good for the Maloofs. Bad for their fans. Nocioni won’t help them much, especially considering he plays positions that are currently filled on the roster with actually good or developing talent.

Watch out for the Suns. Grant Hill is jumping and playing like it’s 99. Nash is back to the MVP-in-the-SSOL-system point guard everyone loved for the past half decade. Amare is dropping 40 point games. Shaq is running. I mean, who gives a crap about defense? If they can drop 120 points every night, I’d love to see what team can defend all of those offensive weapons. Hell, J-Rich, the number one option on last year’s Cats is the fourth option on this team. He’s a career 18 ppg scorer. And that bench has suddenly become an honest to goodness asset. Sure, I’m not going to overreact just cuz the team straight murdered the Clippers on back-to-backs, but I will say that this is the most talented team that Phoenix has had in the entire Nash era. I mean, Barbosa is literally the sixth option on this team.

Hell, Goran Dragic loves him some D’Antoni ball. In his last three games, he’s shooting 72 percent (13-18) while averaging 11 points and 3 assists in only 21 minutes of game time. The turnovers are high, but comparing that to what he was two months ago?

The Suns are scary now. The Lakers should be scared. They’ve got the offensive firepower, the size, and the star power to match up with the purple and gold. And they’ve also got a whole team worth of experience.

In the second half, look for the Jazz, Suns and Rockets to rise, while the Mavs (just not as good), San Antonio (injured Manu) and Hornets (no depth) fall.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Big Mastermind

I’m sure you’ve heard that the Phoenix Suns are in dire straights.

The Suns have fallen to ninth in the playoff race. They’ve gone 5-5 in their last 10 including two in a row before the all-star break. They lost to a group of mediocre teams: Charlotte, New York, Golden State, Chicago, Minny, and even Philly should be thrown in there. Those are teams that a squad who fancies itself championship material just can’t be losing to on a consistent basis.

Coach Terry Porter was just given the axe after a mere 50 games this season.

Owner Robert Sarver wants to cut costs at any expense, despite swallowing the remaining $4 million on Porter’s contract, including trading away his most valuable asset in Amare Stoudemire.

Steve Kerr, who ruined the team by demanding a defensive-minded approach on a roster with nothing but offensive-minded players and then trading his best defensive players away (Marion, Bell, Diaw) for offense-only type players (Shaq, Jason Richardson), has put everyone and their mother on the trading block…well, all except for the one player who can’t physically play any defense at all (Nash).

At the center of the storm, is a man who is trying to weasel his way into another situation that will add rings to his fingers. It’s surprising that more people haven’t seen this obvious ploy, especially considering he’s the biggest man in the NBA.

Shaq is trying to become a Laker again. All year the signs have been there. He’s been downplaying the feud between him and Phil and him and Kobe since September. His exact words were "marketing ploy." When the all-star game shaped up to feature him, Phil and Kobe once again, he started rehashing about how the three of them created the drama, created the interest, but that there were no hard feelings. He’s been repeatedly saying how he and Kobe were the best duo the league had ever seen. Talking about how much he respects Phil. Two weeks ago, he out of the blue declared Kobe as the best player in the NBA, making it a point to rate #24 over Lebron.

During the all-star game introductions, he donned a mask and danced with the JabbaWockees instantly becoming one of the most talked about highlights of the weekend. Having created enough of a buzz with the media about the “dynamic duo” in the weeks leading up to the game, despite only playing 11 minutes during the game, he was named co-MVP with Bryant. He even laughed, heartily I might add, at Kobe’s joke about “Steel Magnolias.”

This after a summer in which he mocked Kobe in a freestyle with the chorus, “Kobe, tell me how my ass taste.”

See, Shaq, despite the jovial appearance and goofy personality, is truly a mastermind. His whole performance, this whole “I love Kobe and Phil” rhetoric is all part of his greater plan.

He’s trying to remind L.A. how fun and cool and Hollywood he is. He’s trying to get himself out of the sinking boat that is the Phoenix Suns and put himself into a position that maximizes his showmanship as well as gives him the best chance to get ring number 5 and possibly even 6 over the life of the rest of his contract. And what a way to exit.

Come back to Los Angeles. Reunite with Kobe. Repair old wounds. Swoop in and ride Kobe’s superior talent and hard work, but receive all the credit and fame, knowing that the naysayers will discount Kobe (who hasn't won without Shaq) and give all the credit to him. If they win rings, it'll just be like old times. Exactly like old times in fact.

See, in order to be considered the best, he has to get more rings. Nobody’s touching Russell’s 11. Besides, Russell played during a different era. An era where one team dominated and it just so happened that Russell was on that team. I’m not discounting his greatness at all, but to hold any NBA player up to that standard is unrealistic.

Therefore, the modern day bar is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s six. And Shaq knows this.

He also knows that the Lakers have plenty of bigs. Andrew Bynum will be coming back, perhaps this season, so taking back-to-backs off won’t hurt the team at all. He knows that Pau Gasol is the perfect complimentary player for his skills, unlike Amare.

He also knows that a big segment of Los Angeles still loves him and that an equally big segment of L.A. (perhaps the same segment) loves the idea of trading Lamar Odom.

Hopefully, Mitch plays this one as smartly and patiently as he's played it the last couple of years.

Seeing as how the Suns are now going to revert back to team basketball under Alvin Gentry and fastbreak a lot more, Shaq’s all-star numbers are going to take a severe hit.

His welcome in Phoenix has outworn itself quicker than any of his last few stops.

So he wants to revisit his best and most memorable stop.

From the inside looking out, it sure seems like Shaq needs L.A. Badly.

Too bad for him, the feelings aren’t mutual.

Somewhere, there’s a message about not burning bridges, something about karma…

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lakers Fall, D-Will Rises

Well, I'm pretty sure Kobe Bryant misses Vladimir Radmanovic. Luke Walton can be good. Emphasis on "can." And he certainly understands and executes the triangle more effectively than Vlad Rad. But damn, there's no doubt in my mind that Kobe misses Vladi. Luke can't shoot to save his life. Vlad, as shown by his 8-16 from beyond the arc in two games with the Bobcats, most certainly can.

The Lakeshow shot a stinky 5-19 from three last night (mostly behind Kobe's 1-7) but boy hooie could they have used a streaky 3-point shooter.

Luke Walton is frustrating. In the third quarter, Pau Gasol steals the ball and Luke streaks down the court for an open layup. Mehmut Okur (yeah, the super fast guy on the Jazz) closes in on Luke and tries to swipe at the ball and hits Luke's left arm. Luke misses the gimme and one opportunity. He then steps up to the stripe and bricks both freethrows basically turning a for sure and-one into a turnover. On the defensive end, Lakers get the stop with Paul Milsap airballing straight to Kobe. Kobe brings the ball up and chucks up a semi-contested 20 footer (more on his poor shot selection in a second). Luke hustles down and almost has an offensive rebound that is knocked out of his hands by Ronnie Brewer. Luke takes the ball out, gives it to Gasol, gets it back and curls around and then tries to lob a pass to Pau. The ball is stolen. The Jazz fastbreak. Fisher makes a great play to stop C.J. Miles dribble. Miles passes back to Brewer but Luke makes the hustle play of recovering back on defensive and then knocking the ball out of bounds.

Three consecutive series that end with Luke almost making a 3-point play but coming up with nothing, almost getting an offensive rebound, and then almost making a steal.

As for Kobe, I don't know what happened or what's been said to him since Bynum went down, but he's not looking to pass much at all. He's not moving the ball as much anymore and is instead taking a bunch of contested shots. Little ball movement. A lot of one on one. When he's on, it's brilliant. But when he's taking tough shots and they ain't falling? He needs to start working the ball around.

The Lakers played crap defense last night (the Jazz shot 59 percent from the field and scored 113 points) but it was Kobe's poor shot selection that cost the team the game. He took 33 shots, and add to that 4 other attempts that ended in fouls...that's 37 attempts...three times as many as the next closest Laker (Pau and Odom who shot a combined 15-26).

Mr. Bryant...pass the damn ball. What happened?

Mr. Odom, three straight games and three career rebounding nights. If he can keep this production up, he'll grab 50 boards the next time the Lakers play the Jazz during the last regular season game. Ha.

Speaking of the Jazz, Mr. Deron Williams is blazing hot as stated in the last post. He dropped 31 and 11 on the Lakeshow. Amazing how people still think Chris Paul is so much better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Point

If I told you that there was a point guard out there who, when given 40 minutes of starter’s PT, averages 16 points, 9.5 assists (with a 3.1 assist to turnover ratio), 1.7 steals and 4.5 rebounds, all on 45 percent shooting, you’d say those are all-star worthy numbers, especially in the East.*

Well, you might be surprised that this dude was coming off the bench and only getting 15 minutes a game. So who was starting in front of him? Chris Paul? Deron Williams? Tony Parker? Uh, try Luke Ridnour.

Now, those numbers aren’t rounded per 40 minutes, those are actual game time 40 minute numbers. His name is Ramon Sessions, and if you don’t remember a 5 game stretch last April during which dude averaged 14 points and 15 dimes on 50 percent shooting, then you obviously weren’t playing fantasy basketball. I picked him up and then dropped him and nearly lost my league’s championship due to that stupid move.

Well, this year, against Detroit this past Saturday, due dropped 44 points and 12 dimes on 72 percent shooting.

Never understood why Milwaukee went out and traded for Luke Ridnour this past offseason. I get why they traded away Mo Williams. Big contract, injury prone, wasn’t known to play defense, and Sessions seemed to be a big time talent ready to take over. But, looking at how well Williams has been playing (big time all-star snub) this season, seems like Damon Jones, Ridnour and Adrian Griffin is a ho hum package.

Ridnour’s played pretty well this year. He’s hit some big shots, but Sessions is the real deal and should have been manning the point all season long. Over the next four weeks, with Ridnour sidelined, the Bucks will get to see a whole bunch of Sessions. He’s got to work on a consistent J, but he’s great at getting to the hole and finds open men.

* * *
I know it’s only over the course of 6 games, but anyone who still doesn’t believe Deron Williams is at least on par with Chris Paul, better do a double take. Finally starting to show his health after playing most of the season on a still recovering ankle, Deron has gradually played himself into his MVP caliber form.

In the new year, Deron’s averaging 23 points, 10.3 dimes and 3 boards on a scalding 49 percent shooting. Chris Paul’s at 22, 11 and 5.4 on 50 percent. Paul’s been better, but no question there is a legitimate debate there.
* * *
Sometimes a new coach and a little bit of freedom is all a guard needs to take off. The Grizz have most assuredly been boosted by the return of Darko Milicic (only two of Memphis’ 15 victories have come without the big Serb), but it’s been a loosening of the reigns by new head coach Lionel Hollins that has helped starting guard Mike Conley Jr. take that next step a lot of us bball freaks thought he would take this year.

After a shaky first game with Hollins at the helm, Conley’s really responded to more freedom posting 13.6 points, 6.4 assists and 4.4 boards on 44 percent shooting over the past 7 games. The most important stat, 4 of those games ended in Grizzlies’ wins.
* * *
Another example of setting a point guard free can be seen on the Dallas Mavericks. At the end of last month, coach Rick Carlisle told Kidd to be more aggressive and stopped calling plays for the 14-year, surefire hall of fame veteran. The result? A 5-1 record against some pretty good teams—Orlando, Portland, and Miami. The results shouldn’t be surprising, least of all to Mavericks brass, who, according to owner Mark Cuban’s blog, have J-Kidd rated as the second most productive player behind only Lebron James based on the Mavs’ own enhanced and complicated player and team evaluation system.

No disrespect for Mr. Trip Dub, but any system that evaluates team and player stats and comes out with J-Kidd as the second highest rated player in the league has a LOT more tweaking to do before it gets it right. Just for the record, Kobe Bryant is 15th on the list, behind border all-stars like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis and luminary talents like…er, Randy Foye.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Trade Talk (Amare for Bosh)

Amare should have gone a long time ago. But if he’s got to go now, then why not make the following deal?

Chris Bosh and Anthony Parker for Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa

From Phoenix’s standpoint, it seems like they are giving up more talent, but think about it. If you put the selfless Bosh, who does all those little things to help teams win (think his quiet dominance in the Olympics) on this team, they have to immediately shoot to the top of everyone’s Western Conference favorites, not just this year, but certainly next as well. Bosh had no problem doing whatever was needed of him on the Olympic squad (a good example of why Amare should have played over the summer), whether that was blocking shots, rebounding, taking charges, whatever. He’s also got the ability to drop 40 on any given night. Sounds exactly like what everyone hoped Amare could be. What's even better, Bosh's game meshes much more fluidly with Shaq's.

Bosh will be a free agent in 2010, but Phoenix’s window is now, that’s what Kerr said when he traded for Shaq, so they have to go after the title this year and next. Besides, Bosh might even sign an extension since he’s a Texas native, and Phoenix has Texas-weather and culture in abundance. Also, in the here and now, Parker is an upgrade on defense and doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to be effective, but can still have big Barbosa-like nights on occasion. Besides, his salary (nearly $5 million) comes off the book next season which would be in line with the Suns desire to shed payroll.

From Toronto’s standpoint, throwing Barbosa into the mix gives them two assets in exchange for Bosh. Basically, they’ll be giving up the better overall player right now for one who has the potential to be better, but has not yet lived up to it along with a dynamic wing player who can play some backup point guard. Calangelo’s been trying to move Parker anyway, so this allows him to retrieve one of his own draft choices (who he loved back in Phoenix I might add). Calderon is the perfect Amare compliment on the pick and roll (well, besides Nash), who does everything Nash does—pass well, lobs well, shoots well, etc. just not quite up to Nash’s level.

With Amare going back to the pick and roll every other play, he would be the unquestioned focal point of the team and would bring 28 and 9 every night as the featured star—something Bosh was unable to do consistently. His crushing inside presence should allow Jermaine O’Neal to patrol the paint on defense, and sit outside and shoot jumpers (he’s better at this at this stage in his career) while Amare goes to work inside on O. Think about this, if Amare goes to the East and averages 30 a game, you don’t think the Raptors would have a chance to make the playoffs? Bosh can’t do that. He can do a lot of other things, but he can’t do that. An Amare led Raptors could finish 20-9 the rest of the way, which would, according to John Hollinger be enough for them to get into the playoffs. If the Raptors start to roll and everyone is suddenly talking about Amare as an MVP candidate rather than a bad choice to start the all-star game, Sun Tzu will have the motivation he needs to bring his “gorilla game” each and every night. He might even, gasp, break into double digit rebounding for once in his career.

Calangelo has ties to Phoenix, obviously, and if neither side feels like they are getting screwed over, then this could be a case of trading stars in need of a change of scenery and could work out well for both teams both in the short term and long term.