Hard to figure
Here's one attempt to rationalize Marion's odd request
Posted: Thursday September 27, 2007 1:27PM; Updated: Monday October 1, 2007 11:14PM
There are few more perplexing NBA personalities than Shawn Marion. Even after spending the entire 2005-06 season with Marion's Phoenix Suns for a book, I still find him a difficult guy to understand. Every question that arises about him only raises more questions.
I had lots of room to deal with the Marion paradox in the book and probably still didn't get it answered. But it's more relevant than ever right now because the Matrix has officially asked to be traded. SI.com colleague Marty Burns runs through the various possible trade scenarios in another space, so this is more about the complicated landscape that surrounds Marion and the only NBA team for which he's ever played.
Herewith, some questions and some answers. Whether it's all of them, I can't say.
1. Is Marion correct to feel slighted that the Suns have been trying to trade him?
Hell, yes. Any human being with a measurable pulse should feel bad if your (pick one -- company, family, girlfriend, team) wants to jettison your butt.
And, make no mistake about it, the Suns were trying to get rid of him long before he said it was time to hit the road. Whether management is correct in that stratagem is a different question, but Marion would've been gone to Boston by now had he and his agent, Dan Fegan, not thwarted a three-way deal with the Celtics that would've brought Kevin Garnett to Phoenix. (They told Celtics personnel boss Danny Ainge that Marion would opt out after one year, his right under his current contract.)
2. Is Marion being truthful when he told the Arizona Republic that the Suns' unwillingness to give him a three-year extension at about $60 million is only "part of why" he wants to leave and that the exact salary figures "aren't important?"
Hell, no. Had general manager Steve Kerr not told Marion point-blank that the Suns weren't going to extend him, not this season anyway, Marion would not be demanding a trade. He wants Paul Pierce contract numbers (Pierce is due about $60 million for the 2008-09, '09-10 and '10-11 seasons, while Marion is due $16.4 million this season and $17.8 next year) and felt rejected when told he wasn't going to get them. Yes, trade rumors were part of it, but nothing makes a player feel so wanted, so respected, as paying him what he considers to be his dollar value.
3. Is Marion correct in saying that he's underrated?
Hell, no. One of the ways you're "rated" is by how much money you're paid; Marion makes more money than any other Sun, including Steve Nash. Another way you're "rated" is by how many All-Star teams you make; Marion has made four in his eight seasons, plus one Olympic team (2004). People mention him all the time among the elite players, but he doesn't seem to get it. I remember Joe Dumars was correctly considered underrated for the first couple years of his career until he got proper recognition and, moreover, realized it. "I'm called underrated so often," Dumars once told me, "I've become overrated."
4. Is Marion a legit MVP candidate, as he claims?
Hell, no. He doesn't handle the ball well enough. He doesn't create his own shot. He's not the go-to guy in the clutch. (Nash is, or perhaps Amaré Stoudemire because he can get to the foul line.) He is not a team leader despite being a co-captain with Nash.
But that shouldn't upset him. Few players are MVP candidates. Not many stars in recent NBA history are more valuable to a team than Jason Kidd, and he's never won the award. Marion is a legit All-Star on a contending team, a role most players would die for.