Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pau? Wow. Shaq? Shock. Who’s next?

The life before trade deadline is never easy. You go somewhere with your friends for two or three days and when you come back home, you usually don’t know what was going on in your favorite league these past three days. It’s downright formidable. You go on the sites with nba’s content and, all of a sudden, something new pops up, like Pau Gasol Heist by LAL. You just ask yourself, what were those Memphis morons thinking? Damn. Props to Mitch Kupchak. Again, I don’t like these 20 days or so before the deadline, because I’m quite conservative and (trade) changes freak me out. Just imagine my mood and shock when I found out that Shaq’s deal is imminent. And... I wasn’t at home then...

I’m not iPoded and I’m not planning to buy such a bullshit. This things are useless for me. First there was the Walkman, which seemed a nifty, useful little electronic plaything, even if far from being what you might call a necessity. You didn’t go to watch Gary Payton with Walkman. Then came the Discman, convenient for the then-new CDs. Again, watching a basketball game with Discman? Useless. Next, with MP3, the relationship between size and capacity made people think there could be nothing better. Yeah, I admit, it was good for some reasons, like listening to some basketball-related podcasts during the halftime break.

My buddy Valdes bought this dumb thing. He became iPod addicted. So as we were gone from our houses (again) the past several days, he brought this invention with him. In a good mood, a little bit drunken, we were discussing the situation in the NBA, how Chris Webber stumbled into Golden State, how Al Jefferson is becoming a fantastic ble chip for Timberwolves or how Pau is going to help Kobe and we don’t wanna meet Lakers in the postseason. We fell asleep. When we got up in the following morning, Valdes immediately popped in his ear phones. I asked him: *What’s so good about listening to music all the time?* I hear people say that iPods, it’s as good as starring in your very own movie. Nah. *I have to tell you something, brotha, I downloaded an ESPN Radio show... and hold your breath... they’re informing that according to sources, suns are a 'yes' away from acquiring Shaquille for Shawn Marion.* That was a shocker. I responded something similar to you-gotta-be-kidding-me.

*No, really, Shaq goes Phoenix.*
*Wait, you’re talking Shaquille O’Neal? To Suns?* I replied.
*Big Daddy & Suns, of course,* Valdes deadpanned. He sounded like reporting some hurricane-attack or something.

I said ‘thanks’ to iPod and we quickly jumped into the car and went home. Even today, I’m still shocked by this situation and if you know the state of O’Neal 2008, you might be shocked, too. I’m not high on pluses for Suns by this deal, I’m not a fan of PHX so I don’t care much how it finally unfolds, if it going to be a success or a plain disaster, however, I tried and I accomplished ‘A dozen ways to rejuvenate a washed-up Shaq and win a championship’ list. (Actually number 13 is ‘have a good sex life’, but Shaq’s divorced so this ain’t working here.) Here it is:

Always look on the bright side. Optimists live on average seven years longer than pessimists. Experts believe optimists are better at managing stress and see problems as short term and controllable. Pessimists, on the other hand, believe their troubles will last forever, affect everything and are impossible to control.
Outlook> Easy with Shaq’s sense of humor. Two-plus seasons as a player are within reach.

Go Japanese. Compared to Westerners they age slower and they haven’t as many diseases/injuries as we have. It is believed their main secret is eating lots of soya.
Outlook> Easy. Lots of soya and hiring a trainer from Japan might work together.

Eat more fruit and vegetables. Old, but true.
Outlook> Easy.

Keep learning. Continued studying keeps you mentally active, more interested and enthusiastic.
Outlook> Easy. Just a lot of video footage including demolitions of Suns’ opponents.

Stay close to family and friends. Close relationships and the good feelings that stem from them help to boost the immune function, protect against injuries and even speed recovery time after surgery.
Outlook> Easy. Shaq’s is lovable and lovely. His teammates like him. (Kobe doesn’t count here.)

Don’t smoke!
Outlook> The easiest of all, since Shaq is not a smoker.

Laugh more. Remember how much you laughed when you were a kid? Or when you were a Laker in 2001? It boosts the number of white blood cells.
Outlook> Easy, you laugh automatically when you see Shaq’s free-throw release.

Eat less. An intake of about 1,500 calories per day (day!) is probably ideal. Stop eating when you are 80% full. Always leave the table before you’re full.
Outlook> Harder, but with all those genuine Phoenix staffers around, Shaq is in good hands.

Get more practice with you new team.
Outlook> Not so easy, but thanks to Nash, Shaq will be driven to play in scrimmages or work out.

Live in the country. Living a quiet and peaceful existence seems to add youth to your life.
Outlook> I don’t know, but here’s a hoping he’ll buy some peacefull house in Arizona.

Get spiritual. Having a belief in something helps people live longer and perform better. Something like meditation is very important.
Outlook> Easy, because praying is modus operandi number one in Phoenix these days.

Drink a glass of wine a day. But only one glass! Red wine is more effective than white because it contains flavonids, which help protect the arteries. Just ask Gregg Popovich.
Outlook> Easy, Shaq’s a grizzled veteran.

There's no doubt that the jury's out in this Shaq-Suns case. We'll see how this works or how this doesn’t work. I can’t wait on the 2008 Playoffs. Maybe he’s going to be a huge defensive shield when healthy against all those Duncans of the world. Maybe he’s going to be a key for them when the game slows down. Maybe he’s going to help them, immensely or less. But, ask yourself, who the hell is going to guard Tony Parker?

BREAKING NEWS: My American sources say that *Do expect to see Jason Kidd with Mavericks this season.* Double-wow! Dallas Mavericks are going to get J-Kidd, according to rumors. Perhaps not today or next week, but surely before the nba’s trade deadline. Mavs decided to do something trade-wise, after Lakers and Suns had made those megadeals. They’re claiming that a trade can dramatically change the balance of power in the tightest conference race ever. That this could be their last chance to win the big prize. They will swap him for the combination of Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and DeSagana Diop. Stay tuned and don’t forget, you heard it here for the first time!

Speaking of trades, do you know Sacramento Kings’ Francisco Garcia? He’s a 6-7 swingman, making $1,168,800 this season. Any chance someone will trade for him? I like him a lot. He isn't getting much attention, but he has more than doubled his scoring average from last season thanks to his increasing confidence in a deadly 3-point stroke. In his third pro season, he is shooting 39.6 percent from downtown and scores 18.7 points per 40 minutes, plus he's a solid defender, learning from his 2007-08 errors. Arguably, he doesn't have much of upside-potential because he's already 26... but his shooting, defense and ballhandling make him a strong complementary player. Spurs, get him somehow.

One last note: How come Bulls GM John Paxson didn’t trade for Pau Gasol?!? He had to offer P.J. Brown’s $8 million-expiring-sign-and-trade contract, Viktor Khryapa’s $1.9 million EC, Tyrus Thomas and first-round draft pick (lottery-protected 2008). Chicago then would have been giving up little in terms of actual on-court contribution while adding what they desperately need - a low-post scoring presence. The luxury tax is a concern, but sometimes you must pay in dollars for progress. Gasol for KWAME Brown... A stroke of genius, nothing less.

Tonite’s predictions (I’m planning to open my own bookie office):
MiA at PHI *** MIA win (If Marion plays.)
CLE at HOU *** HOU win (LBJ triple-double.)
CHI at GS *** GS win

p.s.: the steal, er, deal that envious execs and media types can't stop talking about - gasol for none of the lakers' top 10 players - was summed up best in all of three words by dallas avery johnson: *merry christmas, l.a.* (-marc stein)
p.s.2: my first reaction to hearing reports about this [shaq-marion] deal was that i was being punk'd. after that, i checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't april 1. (-john hollinger)
p.s.3: *shaq's not the mobile center he used to be,* rob horry joked. *a lot of times, he might not make it across halfcourt with them.*
p.s.4: suns gm steve kerr on shaq-deal: *if it works, i'm a genius. if it doesn't, i'm a moron.*

Posted by Foreigner in CS - Feb 7 2008 4:28PM

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