Writers' Roundtable (cont.)
Ian Thomsen: I thought O'Neal would be good for Toronto, so I don't have a lot of confidence in predicting his future. Miami could be using the threat of acquiring O'Neal to leverage another trade (for Brad Miller, as reported recently). Marion would energize the Raptors, who can't win without scoring in high numbers, but in the big picture it wouldn't be a big deal.
Jack McCallum: "Good deal for both teams" is a cop-out. It would absolutely be a better deal for Toronto. The athleticism of Marion -- who, by the way, in past weeks has been rumored to be going everywhere but Juneau, Alaska -- would help the hardworking Chris Bosh with rebounding and shot-blocking and give the Raptors the kind of unpredictable slasher they don't have in Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon. And I'm still waiting for O'Neal to become a truly elite player, not just someone who's supposed to be an elite player.
Chris Mannix: In the short term, sure, a healthy O'Neal can help Miami's smallish frontcourt, and Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo has been dying to get Marion in a Raptors uniform since he took over the team in 2006. And if Marion and O'Neal swapped teams, both Toronto and Miami would stand a good chance at making the playoffs. But let's face it, both players are stopgap measures. Marion will become an unrestricted free agent after the season and O'Neal has only one more year left on his contract.
Steve Aschburner: Better deal for Toronto, which would gain by both addition (Marion would be a better fit next to Bosh and Bargnani) and subtraction (erasing the bad O'Neal move). Miami would have to hope that O'Neal could rev himself up for a last hurrah, because he has been sounding like a guy who's borderline interested for a couple of years now. But Marion isn't enough of a factor with Dwyane Wade controlling the ball in a half-court game, so it's worth the try.
Ian Thomsen: I agree on Allen. It's like watching Rod Carew at bat (or Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles) -- the trigger is quick and apparently effortless. Allen needs so little time and space that a defender can appear to be all over him and the Celtics' guard will still put up a shot that arcs perfectly. How many times do you see teams pull up in transition for a three that isn't worth the risk because a much better shot was available going to the basket? But when Allen is pulling up at the three-point line, it's always a good bet to let him shoot.
Jack McCallum: "Best pure shooter" usually implies a standstill guy who is not very athletic -- that's partly why Allen, who can get to the basket when so inclined, is so extraordinary. But when I think of pure shooter, I also want a guy who has been pure in countless clutch circumstances, who has won big games with his shooting. That brings me down to Larry Bird or Reggie Miller. I'm going with Larry Legend, who, like Miller, twice led the league in three-point shooting and made outlandish shots at outlandishly important times.
Chris Mannix: Bird was third in the players' vote. Really. Are you kidding me? I guess that's what happens when a good chunk of the players being surveyed wasn't born when Bird was winning championships. While taking nothing away from Allen (who has the purest stroke) and Miller (who could make shots from some incredible angles), it isn't even a contest. His ball-in-the-back-of-the-head form wasn't the prettiest, and his career 37.6 three-point percentage doesn't jump off the page, but no one shot a better ball than Bird.
Steve Aschburner: My pick is Bird. I agree with the players that Allen is the best active shooter, and I know that many of those polled mentioned Miller. Other names that come to mind: Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Mullin, Dale Ellis, Jeff Hornacek. But Bird is the best I've seen, whether from three-point range or creating something out of nothing from an angle behind the backboard. And I saw him reenact his famous moment from the three-point contest -- raising a finger triumphantly while the ball still was in flight -- in a game that counted: He nailed a shot from the corner at the end of a playoff game at Milwaukee and was heading off the court before the ball swished through the net.
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