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Article:Pau Gasol traded to the Lakers; Shaquille O'Neal traded to the Suns

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I'm a little late with this, but I thought I'd try to make sense of it all. I will start off with Pau Gasol, then Shaquille O'Neal.

The Lakers traded Kwame Brown, the rights to Marc Gasol, Aaron McKie, Javaris Crittenton and two future first round picks for Pau Gasol and a future second round pick. Obviously, this is a major fleece for the Lakers, at least on paper. The Lakers received an All-Star who has the ability to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists for potential, picks and expiring contract.

Pau Gasol fits in perfectly with the Lakers. Gasol failed as being the franchise player of the Memphis Grizzlies. In LA, he doesn't have to be the main guy on that team. he'll be able to thrive in the giant shadow of Kobe. Gasol can play the high or low post. He's an excellent passer. Very unselfish. Can hit the 15 footer. Gasol will complement Kobe and Bynum really well and should thrive. The only hitch is that it's up to Pau to deliver the goods. He isn't without his flaws. Being 0-12 in the playoffs doesn't exactly give you confidence that he can deliver under pressure. Granted, it isn't all his fault, but to not win one game in 12 tries? That is downright awful. The Spinard isn't a good defender. He might be average, but that's probably pushing it. He doesn't get himself foul trouble on the defensive end. I guess that is one of the good things of being a bad defender. You get to stay on the floor longer. Pau does utilize his height and length really well. Doesn't fall for the pump fakes. He is slow with his defensive rotations. Tends to shy away from contact. Does this mean he's soft? Yeah, at least on the defensive end of the floor, he's soft. This trade will work only if Gasol produces and produces in pressure situations. 'Cause you know the opposition isn't going to let Kobe win the game in the end. Lamar Odom doesn't exactly strike fear into opponents with that atrocious jumpshot. There is Derek Fisher who has come up big in the playoffs in his career. Andrew Bynum is too young to be given that kind of pressure. So it's up to Kobe, mainly, and Gasol to deliver. Stay tuned.

So, what did Memphis really get in this trade? Cap room. The Memphis owner is losing millions of dollars with his basketball franchise. He wants to make the franchise look good for any potential buyers. $10+ million in cap room helps with what he's trying to do. Kwame Brown is just a warm body with a $9 million expiring contract. Aaron McKie will be a player/coach for the Grizzlies and should help mentor the young kids for the rest of the season. Javaris Crittenton is the jewel of the trade as are the picks. Crittenton is already a defensive stalworth. Could be become lockdown defender with more experience, especially given his physical tools; 6'4" 195lbs. His ceiling is very high. Offensively, he can take his opponent off the dribble and finish around the basket with the best of them. He can do this already at this age. Imagine what happens when he gets a jumpshot. Javaris is good decision maker and passer. The sky is the limit for this kid.

Kobe Bryant wasn't exactly happy when he found out that Javaris Crittenton was traded. At least, that's what I thought of his initial reaction to the trade. Via ESPN:

"Javaris was like a little brother to me," Bryant said. "I tried to mentor him as much as I could."

Maybe that isn't much but consider this, via

In completing his bicoastal journey, Crittenton has also been buoyed by the support current Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher. According to Crittenton, Bryant has singled him out for his diligence as a student of the game, happily sharing his All-NBA First Team knowledge by helping him with his defensive stances, explaining how guard players based on their unique skill sets and how best to utilize his own offensive game.

"He's been teaching me little nuances of the offense and things of that nature so it's been great," said Crittenton.

Those quote came from article that was a couple of months ago. It isn't much. But consider that it was Kobe who decided to open up to Javaris. It's not as if Kobe does this all the time. He has been guarded for most of his career. Yet, he opened up to Crittenton and taught him a few things about the offense and how to defend certain players. If I were the GM, trading Javaris Crittenton would not be on my agenda considering my star player sees a lot of potential in him. I think the Lakers traded the wrong point guard. Mitch Kupchack (Or Jerry West?) should've pushed Jordan Farmar on the Grizzlies to see if they would bite. Crittenton's potential is significantly greater than Farmar. At this point in their respective careers, Crittenton is already a better defender than Farmar and it's not even close. Something the Lakers will undoubtly miss come playoff time. I guess Farmar's 3 point shooting will make up for that shortcoming.  But that is neither here or there.

Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Suns for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. The Suns picked up a future HOFer who is still productive at his advanced age. Any number of teams could use 14 points and 7 rebounds at the center position, contract notwithstanding. Can Shaq stay healthy? Well, the Suns medical staff have probably extended Steve Nash's playing career with his well documented back trouble. There is no doubt that the medical staff could do the same with Shaq's ailments. Will it work? Something is bound to breakdown on a man who's played 16 seasons on a 7'1" frame at about 320lbs. If Shaq can stay on the court, he'll provide an easy scoring option in the halfcourt game. The Suns have been eliminated from the playoffs because of their inability to defend  and score in the halfcourt. Shaq can help in both of the areas. He's still productive, just not the dominance we're used to seeing. His presence allows Amare to play his natural position which is the PF. Shaq will be surrounded by shooters so that'll give him room in the post to go to work. Defensively, the Diesel gives them a physical presence that the Suns never had. He can still defend the post, at least better than Amare Stoudamire. In the summer of 2010, the Suns could have about $45 million worth of cap space. Shaq, Steve Nash, Raja Bell, and Amare's deals expire, assuming the Suns don't pick up Nash's option. It's probably a given that the Suns will extend Nash and Amare, but that still gives them enough capspace to sign an All-Star. Still, the Suns success depends on Shaq's ability to stay healthy and the perimeter defense. The latter will probably continue to be dreadful and even worse since the departure of Shawn Marion. It might even be their downfall in the end. If Mike D'Antoni starts believing in his bench, DJ Strawberry might be the perimeter defender that the Suns will need in the playoffs. He was the best athlete in last year's draft and a known defensive wizard. If D'Antoni doesn't trust these young players, the Suns won't win a thing in the next couple of years. He has been known to keep young players on an extremely short leash. See Marcus Banks.

Miami Heat injected some youth and explosiveness to their team with the addition of Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. Both players will start for the Heat immediately. Banks gives them a legit point guard that they've been longing for since the start of the season. Can Marion create his own offense without the help of Nash? This is the flaw or question mark that has plagued Marion throughout this career. He has whined and complained the last couple of seasons about not getting the ball often. Now, he has a chance to prove that he's a legit creative scorer in the NBA. This might be a short rebuilding period with the additions of Marion and Banks. The Heat could have cap room if Marion's ego gets in the way and he opts, along with the expiring contracts of Jason Williams, Ricky Davis, and Dorell Wright. Does Pat Riley trade some of the aforementioned players for a Mike Miller or Ron Artest? Andrei Kirilenko? Anything is possible, since he moved the most immovable contract in the NBA. Any fringe playoff team do not want to face the Heat down the stretch. They won't be an automatic W anymore.

Before this trade happened, here is Dwyane Wade's frustration via the Miami Herald:

Heat guard Dwyane Wade on Tuesday offered a slight jab at some of his teammates, when asked about opponents' tendency to send multiple defenders in his direction.

"That's the smart thing to do," Wade said with chuckle, before adding: "Right now, until we start making shots, until we start making people pay, they're supposed to not let me beat them, or not let me keep us in a ballgame.

"Once guys start making shots, then my effectiveness will come back. You're only as good as your teammates. I don't care how good you are. You're only as good as your teammates, and I know that."

Wade's shooting percentage, scoring, assists, and rebounds are all down from last season despite playing almost as many minutes. Still, Wade took some of the blame.

"I've never been a guy to point fingers and blame," Wade said, "because I'm part of the problem also."

Contradict yourself much? If Kobe threw his teammates under bus, it would be all over ESPN. Guys at TNT Overdrive would've been all over him, especially Charles Barkley. But if Dwyane Wade or even Lebron James does, they're just speaking the truth.

Wade should be happy about this trade. Hey, maybe the Heat can make the playoffs. That might be pushing it, and if they did, that wouldn't be good for the franchise, because the draft will be very deep with legit lottery picks.

Which team will trade next? Spurs? Mavericks? Hornets? Cavs? I expect three of the four to make a trade or two. Spurs need another scorer, big man and some athleticism. Mike Miller anyone? Mavericks don't really need anything, but another post player would work wonders. Brandon Bass has been a good find for the organization, but can he deliver under pressure? Will Dirk choke again? Will Josh Howard "fade to black" like he normally does under pressure? Hornets need scoring from their bench. Gerald Green would help in that area. But the Hornets have terrible contracts and not many teams would want any of those players, unless the Hornets give up somebody like Hilton Armstrong. I don't see that happening. Cavs need a point guard, scorer, and another big man. Andre Miller? Luke Ridnour? Mike Bibby? Mike Miller?

A few more trades will undoubtedly happen in desperation. Somebody will bite on Jermaine O'Neal. Check out the ESPN's Trade Machine. They've created a new one. I like the original version better. But the new trial version does tell you whether the trade improved the team or not. Good times leading up to the trade deadline.

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