Hard to figure (cont.)
Posted: Thursday September 27, 2007 1:27PM; Updated: Monday October 1, 2007 11:14PM
5. Does Marion too often shrink from competition at big moments, as both Nash and coach Mike D'Antoni have intimated?
This isn't a hell yes. But it's a yes. Because he doesn't really create his own shot, I think Marion feels out of sync in the offense once in a while and can't figure out how to get himself going. On defense, I think he gets disheartened from time to time by having to compete against players who are bigger and stronger, which is often his lot. Overall, he gets frustrated at the defensive liabilities of his teammates, particularly those of Stoudemire, and tires of covering up for them.
6. Is Marion too often singled out for criticism?
Again, this isn't a hell yes. But it's a yes. In his private moments, D'Antoni even concedes that he sometimes gets on Marion so much because he expects so much from him. Whatever Nash's defensive liabilities, they don't come from a lack of effort, and when D'Antoni and the coaches get on Stoudemire for his poor defense, it seems to go unheard. D'Antoni gets all over Leandro Barbosa for shot selection, but he battles through it. Raja Bell is so hard on himself when he gets into a shooting funk that no one needs to do it for him. But Marion takes pointed criticism personally and feels that he is too often the only Sun in the blame game.
7. Would the Suns be a better team without Marion?
Hell, no. Either Lamar Odom's long-armed presence or Andrei Kirilenko's frenetic unpredictability would be nice complements in a Nash-Stoudemire offense, particularly because Grant Hill, about whom the Suns are excited, has looked so sharp in drills. But given the whole Marion package -- the automatic double-double, the sometimes accurate three-point shooting, the number of positions he can guard as well as the little things he does on defense (such as jumping over to double-team), the jaw-dropping athleticism, the relative indestructibility -- you have the portrait of a player who is hard to replace.
But here's a different question ...
8. Should the Suns work like hell to move him?
Yes. He can opt out after this season and they would get nothing. He feels unhappy and slighted. He's not going to get his desired money from owner Robert Sarver, who wants to avoid paying the luxury tax and reacts to the word extension the way, say, Hillary Clinton reacts to the word intern. Marion will never feel like a favored son/Sun in an environment with the uber-respected Nash and, now, Hill.
But Phoenix won't give him up for anything less than almost equal value. Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo (who drafted Marion when he was the Suns' GM) would love to have the Matrix but is unwilling to part with Chris Bosh. The way it looks now, a deal would have to be done for either Odom or Kirilenko. And even if that gets done, it's no slam-dunk that the Suns will be better, though they might be happier.
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