Observation Deck (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday June 13, 2007 4:03PM; Updated: Wednesday June 13, 2007 6:46PM
Several media reports have Suns All-Star forward Shawn Marion going to any number of teams this summer, which, sadly, makes sense. Phoenix owner Richard Sarver has had a strict "no luxury tax" policy in place since taking over the team in 2004, and Marion seems like the easiest piece to trade based on his myriad abilities and the fact that few teams would want Boris Diaw right now (his five-year, $45 million extension kicks in next season).
Before you start thinking Marion is a lock to head off to Chicago or Boston or any team with $16 million worth of salaries to match, you have to understand the reasoning behind any deal for Phoenix. Marion won't be traded because he chafes about his role in the offense or because he's overshadowed by Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire; a deal would be about the Suns' desire to cut costs now, not for 2008-09 (the last year of Marion's contract, incidentally) or beyond.
Because the Suns aren't going to dump him for players making close to as much money -- thus keeping them over the luxury tax in 2007-08 -- it's hard to see Marion being shipped somewhere this summer (unless a third team helps facilitate a deal). Coach Mike D'Antoni appears to agree with that line of thinking as well.
Kurt Thomas, on the other hand? Pack those bags ...
The swift restructuring that took place in Seattle last week (assuming, of course, there was a structure to restructure) saw some mildly shocking aftereffects, including the apparent demotion of Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens from team president to consultant. Wilkens reportedly angered SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett by referring to himself as president in radio interviews even before agreeing to a contract. While those two haggled over roles, power and cash considerations, the team hired 30-year-old Sam Presti away from the Spurs to be GM, probably the first smart thing this franchise (you know, the one that paid Bob Hill to coach it the last two seasons) has done in years.
Presti knows the game and how to work around the salary cap, and he won't get hung up trying to retain the cast of solid players he's inherited. Wilkens, meanwhile, was rumored to want Magic GM John Gabriel to run the Sonics. Gabriel had his moments in Orlando, and it certainly wasn't his fault that Grant Hill was on crutches for the first half of this decade. But he wasn't really a knockout with the Magic -- he did give a 31-year-old Horace Grant a five-year, $50 million deal in 1996, after all -- and his hiring would speak to an old-guard system that Wilkens was likely to employ.
We don't doubt Wilkens' coaching ability or his potential as a consultant in Seattle. But starting fresh means you hand the reins to someone unencumbered by decades worth of friendships and soft promises. The Sonics should flourish under Presti.