You beat me to it, Cheng. I normally do not like Sam Smith, but this is a good article. It really is a fair assessment of the situation.
I just can't believe Smith didn't have some asinine trade proposal involving Marbury and the Chicago Bulls in the article somewhere.
Friday, March 28
Suns didn't get raw deal with Marbury
By Sam Smith
Special to ESPN.com
You were so sure the Golden State Warriors
were idiots. Vince Carter for Antawn Jamison? Are you kidding? The steal of the century, right? Now just a minute. The Warriors, led by the high-scoring Jamison, continue to fight for a playoff spot in the rough Western Conference, while the Toronto Raptors have become perhaps the NBA's biggest disappointment and Carter, the once next great one, has become arguably the league's most reluctant superstar -- an immense talent who'd rather pass to Antonio Davis. Who would you take now?
Marbury, bottom, endured a rough first season in Phoenix after being dealt for Kidd.
And so we get to Jason Kidd and Stephon Marbury. And suddenly it doesn't look so one-sided after all.
Phoenix has risen from the ashes of the supposedly disastrous trade and is contending again for the playoffs, now in the eighth spot for the West's final postseason berth ahead of Houston. Sure, Kidd still is a terrific player. But the Nets are no lock for the Finals anymore and may not even make it out of the first round with a post-All-Star nosedive. And Kidd, a free agent, hardly has vowed fealty to the Nets.
I happen to believe Kidd will stay with the Nets, though I suspect it's one of the last places he'd like to be. But the last place Chris Webber wanted to be was Sacramento. If San Antonio doesn't bite on Kidd, which makes little sense the way Tony Parker has developed, then the options for Kidd as a free agent are going to be limited. Denver? I don't think so. The Clippers? No way. One doesn't turn down more than $100 million, which Kidd can collect from the Nets since he's now eligible for a contract starting at 30 percent of the salary cap, or more than $13 million in the first year. I'm not sure I'd want to be paying even Kidd $20 million a year seven years from now at the end of his deal. And I doubt anyone but the Nets will be.
So this still is an awfully good trade for the Nets. Having Kidd makes them contenders in the Eastern Conference for years.
But no longer is this the one-sided deal it appeared to be when the Nets went to the Finals last season and Marbury went to jail (briefly for driving under the influence).
Sure, Amare Stoudemire
is terrific. He may not win Rookie of the Year over Yao Ming, but he was the draft pick of the year. You're supposed to get the Rookie of the Year with the No. 1 overall draft pick. You're not supposed to with the No. 9 pick -- not when he skipped high school. And he's not supposed to transform your pathetic front court.
This is the Western Conference, where big men are not optional. The Suns had so few they'd even be overmatched in the East. But Stoudemire changed all that. He was someone to stand up to the Big Diesel and other locomotives chugging around the West.
But it wasn't Stoudemire who's resurrected the Suns, nor Shawn Marion. Though the Suns often were a 50-win team with Kidd, Kidd doesn't exactly match up with their talent. Kidd is not a scorer. He needs wing players to run with; the Suns truly only have Marion. Kidd needs guys to run with. Not Jake Tsakalidis and Scott Williams. It's why the Nets have struggled some this season. They miss Keith Van Horn. They're short a scorer. They've had to turn Kidd into a scorer, which he's tried. It's also knocked him out of any consideration for MVP. He tries, but he's no scorer. He's no Stephon Marbury.
Kidd vs. Marbury
How have Jason Kidd and Stephon Marbury fared since trading places? Below is a look at their statistics -- and their teams' win-loss records -- over the last two seasons.
gms-starts 151-151 152-150
points/gm 16.7 21.6
rebs/gm 6.8 3.3
assists/gm 9.3 8.2
steals/gm 2.2 1.2
assist/TO 2.58 2.44
Team W-L 95-58 73-80
OK, Marbury was a disaster in New Jersey. He should never have left Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. But this was a 19-year-old then. He did and said stupid things. The first was wanting to go to New Jersey, nearby his New York home with all the old neighborhood guys to hang around. The next stupid thing he said was just about everything in New Jersey, painting on his shoes how he was alone, hardly enduring the losing with dignity.
He is a great talent, but he didn't have great ankles when he was traded. He needed surgery on both but, because of the deal, decided to play the season. He wasn't very good. For him. The Nets, as we all know, were great. Kidd was greater than the sum of their parts.
Now the Suns have five fewer wins than the Nets, and what would the difference be if the teams changed conferences? Against the West, the Nets are a .500 team. Against the East, the Suns are 17-11.
And it's because of Marbury. This guy is good.
He's the only player in the league in the top 10 in scoring and assists. (Hello, Tiny Archibald.) He's among the league leaders in steals. He plays defense. In the Suns' games against Steve Nash, Steve Francis, Gary Payton, Kidd, Allen Iverson and John Stockton, those top-six point guards are averaging a combined 15.8 points and shooting a collective 33.9 percent. In those games against the six, Marbury is averaging 22.4 points and shooting 43.5 percent.
However, Marbury is a scorer first, and that is the goal of the game.
He's scored 40 or more points four times this season, and the Suns needed them all in winning three of those games. One of those wins was against the hot Spurs, and Marbury ripped them for 26 fourth-quarter points. Marbury has hit five game-winning shots this season and sent another game into overtime with a last-second shot. There's a so-called "crunch time" statistic that measures points and takes away misses and turnovers in the last two minutes, and Marbury ranks second in the NBA. In the last two months, as the Suns try to return to the playoffs, he's been at his best, ranking third in the league in scoring behind only Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant in that span and leading in the league in assists.
This is a kid growing into a man.
Sure, there was the embarrassment of the drunk driving, but when it was time for surgery, Marbury didn't hesitate. He needed separate surgeries on his ankles, and he didn't wait, having both within weeks of each other after the season ended so he could start working out immediately and be ready for training camp. No sick leave on company time for him.
Would Jason Kidd have remained in Phoenix? Perhaps. But there clearly were issues between he and the team, and he might have walked away.
Marbury is signed through 2004-05, and he's just 26. He's still getting better. Not a bad acquisition. Not a bad acquisition at all.