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Big-name hunting

Marion most likely of marquee players to be traded

Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 12:11PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 5:17PM
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Trade rumors involving Shawn Marion (left) and Kevin Garnett have created intrigue early in the offseason.
Trade rumors involving Shawn Marion (left) and Kevin Garnett have created intrigue early in the offseason.
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The hottest name on the trading block is on the West Coast but isn't a Los Angeles resident.

He is a long-armed forward who can score from everywhere and defend multiple positions, but doesn't play in the Midwest.

I'm talking about Shawn Marion.

Why? For starters, there is little chance Lakers owner Jerry Buss will unload a player in Kobe Bryant who a) sells ticket at home (L.A. averaged 18,985 fans per game last season, the seventh-highest average in the league) and on the road (18,825 per game, third best), b) sells apparel (Bryant's No. 24 jersey was the league's top seller in 2006-07 and the main reason Lakers jerseys were the NBA's best seller) and c) is the only player in the league who can win a game by himself. Not unless Buss gets equal value in return. And that's not possible.

Nor is it likely that Kevin Garnett will find a new home before the start of next season. The only trade that makes sense for Minnesota is the reported deal that would send Garnett to Boston for a package of Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and the fifth overall pick.

Of course this makes sense for the Timberwolves. In exchange for the 31-year-old KG, Minnesota would get a future All-Star power forward (Jefferson), a high flyer with enormous potential (Green) and much-needed payroll flexibility (couple Garnett's salary with Ratliff's expiring $11.7 million contract and you create plenty of wiggle room).

Minnesota also would have the pick from Boston as well as its own No. 7 selection in a draft many have predicted will be the deepest in years. Suppose the Timberwolves could land Ohio State point guard Mike Conley (who could step in and play right away) and Florida swingman Corey Brewer (who is the most NBA-ready player in the draft). Then they could use their second-round pick on a big man or peddle Ricky Davis for some frontcourt help.

Now, I'm not privy to what Danny Ainge is thinking on this one, but I would venture to say he would have to be certifiable to pull the trigger. Yes, acquiring Garnett would appease the Boston faithful, which hasn't seen a banner raised since 1986. But it would be a debilitating blow in the long term, as Garnett, who entered the league in 1995, has a lot of miles on his tires. And Ainge's "build with youth" plan wouldn't mean much since, well, he would no longer have any.

Which brings us back to Marion. While the Matrix has been one of the most statistically productive players in the league over the last five years, it has become clear that Phoenix is looking to make a change. Word of chemistry issues in the Suns' locker room has filtered through the league since Phoenix's second-round ouster. If you discount seldom-used Jalen Rose (one general manager called him "the worst locker room lawyer in the league"), those problems can only be attributed to Marion and Amaré Stoudemire.

Given Stoudemire's age (24 to Marion's 29) and scoring average (20.4 to 17.5) and the fact that he plays a premium position (center), dealing him is probably less palatable to the Suns than trading Marion, who hasn't exactly embraced the role of third banana behind Stoudemire and Steve Nash.

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