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kriD
06-05-2006, 05:58 AM
Suns see Amaré's return as only change needed

Paul Coro
The Arizona Republic

The Suns are not far away from a title.

They still might be playing if they had a healthy starting shooting guard.

They think Leandro Barbosa can be the backup playmaker.

They plan to only tweak a good team in the off-season.

Maybe you have heard all of this before, like a year ago when five players wound up returning in October.

This time, the Suns say they mean it. They think they already have the best off-season pickup signed - Amaré Stoudemire, who is coming off two knees surgeries with plans to not "settle for anything less than a championship next year."

"Lord knows I hope it doesn't blow up, but we will do everything we can to have a championship team," said Mike D'Antoni, who goes from coaching duties to executive vice president and general manager duties today.

What does adding Stoudemire to a Western Conference finals team equal? It's not a simple equation that injects 20-some points and eight to 10 rebounds. There are egos to massage, a crowded lane to configure and lineups to shuffle, but the prospects are tantalizing.

As of today, the 2006-07 Suns would send out Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw and Stoudemire for the tip in the opener.

"(Stoudemire's return) gives us enough to win a championship," D'Antoni said. "Now, it's up to us as coaches and players to put it all together and do that. Any time you throw a rock in the pond, you've got some ripples. We're going to have to figure that out. This is a boulder we're throwing in.

"Everybody's got to be cool and understand the goal is to win a championship. Do I average two less points? Maybe. Do I average 10 less points? Maybe. I might not have a career year, because there's only so many points to go around. There's where the character comes in."

Phoenix has until preseason to work out contract extensions for its rising players, Barbosa and Diaw, who reiterated hopes to stay Sunday. Barbosa, 23, might sign for a deal approaching the one Bell signed last year (five years, $24 million), but Diaw, 24, will be much more expensive. Both remain on rookie deals next season, paying them a combined $3.5 million.

As for other Suns with contract issues, Pat Burke plans to come back, Brian Grant is leaning that way and Eddie House is on the fence after fading out of the playoff rotation.

Phoenix has two draft picks (Nos. 21 and 27), which they could package to move up or deal one to lessen the burden of guaranteed contracts with a payroll creeping toward the luxury tax threshold.

It will be hard to re-sign unrestricted free agent Tim Thomas, even at a midlevel exception starting price of about $5.5 million, and avoid being taxed unless a player is moved.

"We want him," D'Antoni said. "We love him."

Thomas shot down the popular theory that he will wind up with New Jersey. He said his wife "won't allow it" because it would be "too much" with both being natives. He said he will not listen to any other team until he hears from Phoenix. Free agency contact begins July 1.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm not going to make as much money as I can," said Thomas, who is willing to be a reserve. "But at the same time, just knowing what's at stake here and what's here to reach that goal, it would be almost (ridiculous) to try to go somewhere else and get paid and have a setback as far as winning."

The Suns also have a $3.6 million trade exception. But if it means taking on more salary, they may let it expire.

As with every season, a Marion trade rumor is sure to surface despite consecutive All-NBA seasons. When the call comes, D'Antoni said: "I'll listen because you always have to listen. And then we'll go, 'No.' . . . Shawn has to know we're not doing anything. We're close to a championship. We're not going to get into that."

Nash headed off to a busy summer of an NBA trip to South Africa, off-season living in New York and a charity game in Vancouver feeling like an even better title chance got away.

"It hurts a little more (than last season) because I thought we could've done it," Nash said.

He said he would be more than happy if the team remained intact and had a discussion Sunday with D'Antoni about quality of minutes vs. quantity. He was taxed heavily because of the playmaking burden once Stoudemire was out. Barbosa's playoff improvement and coachable way may keep Phoenix from looking outside for help at point guard.

"There won't be as much pressure to create shots for everyone," Nash said. "With Leandro, Boris and Raja all becoming better and better ballhandlers and playmakers and with Amaré coming back, it'll take pressure off all of us. It probably won't be the same 30 to 35 minutes as it was this year."

MavKikiNYC
06-05-2006, 06:12 AM
It will be kind of sad and ironic if Nash's health continues to decline, and he gets relegated to a backup role behind Leandro Barbosa. He could've done that in Dallas.

atrewsfan
06-05-2006, 06:21 AM
They'll be getting Kurt Thomas back too. He should help with their rebounding and post D and he has a nice 15-foot jump shot.

MavKikiNYC
06-05-2006, 06:23 AM
They'll be getting Kurt Thomas back too. He should help with their rebounding and post D and he has a nice 15-foot jump shot.

KT is due for a 100,000-mile oil change here pretty soon. I agree he'll give them some depth, but I don't know that he's going to help their running game much. If he has a big role on this team, then they will have changed their style of play signifcantly.

Thespiralgoeson
06-05-2006, 06:24 AM
I'm sorry, but I just don't think Phoenix will ever get out of the Western conference with a small lineup. I hate to sound like one of the "pundits" but I just don't believe that you can win a championship by sacrificing size for speed. It's not even about defense. It's about rebounding. When your lineup is always smaller then the opponents', you're almost certainly going to get killed on the glass. You just can't sacrifice a crucial fundamental of the game like rebounding.

Personally, and I know most people would call me nuts for saying this, but I really think they'd be better served with a center like.... Erick Dampier... I'm dead serious.

We all know Phoenix is a fast-breaking team. Well, fast-breaks are triggered by rebounding and shot-blocking. The Celtics won 11 championships this way. Russell wasn't an offensive threat, but they had a team built to run, and his lock-down defense, superhuman rebounding and shotblocking allowed the Celtics to run and gun like was never seen before.

Of course, Dampier isn't an option for Phoenix, but let's use his name for argument's sake. Imagine this lineup out there:

Nash/Barbosa
Diaw/Bell/Jones
Marion/House
Amare/T. Thomas
Dampier/K. Thomas

Of course, putting the more conventional lineup out there, and putting someone like Damp out there who has very little offensive game would take away some of their explosiveness and slow the pace down, right?

Wrong. I daresay their offense would be even more dangerous with such a player, because with a big body like Damp's in the middle, they'd be a much better rebounding team (fact of the matter is, they're pretty bad as is). More rebounds means more possessions, more fast-breaks, more everything. But wait, there's more. A big, muscular center would also help their pick and roll. The guys they have set pretty sloppy picks from what I've seen. Get a big body to set bone-crushing picks like Damp does, and it makes the play that much more effecient and difficult to defend.

Of course, players like that are a rare commodity these days, and not easy to acquire. That's why Damp makes so much money. For various reasons, but primarily financial, I don't know if all this is possible for Phoenix. But if somehow they could make it happen, that is keep their current lineup together and put in a conventional, Damp-like center who rebounds, defends, and blocks shots, I honestly believe that team would not only be capable of winning a championship, but would be the favorite to do so.

MavKikiNYC
06-05-2006, 06:46 AM
Spiral, not to politicize this or anything, but what you're saying is a little bit like saying if the Democrats could make Hillary palatable to the Fundamentalists, she'd be unbeatable.

The Suns' strength, using speed and quickness to spread the floor, is almost completely incompatible with using a big, strong but slower center like Dampier. And yeah, it's about defense too. Not sure how you separate the defensive rebounding part from defense. You're right that a running game can be generated off of blocked shots, forced turnovers and defensive rebounds, but.....again, you're back to the need for a defensive team.

And as the Mavericks have shown, you can improve your defense a lot by slowing the game down, allowing your defense to get into position, and controlling the tempo at a slower pace--all of which goes against what the Suns do.

Thespiralgoeson
06-05-2006, 07:10 AM
Spiral, not to politicize this or anything, but what you're saying is a little bit like saying if the Democrats could make Hillary palatable to the Fundamentalists, she'd be unbeatable.

Edit: I also don't want to get political here, but what's wrong with saying that? As soon as Bush was re-elected she embarked on a sort of extreme-makeover mission to do exactly that.

The Suns' strength, using speed and quickness to spread the floor, is almost completely incompatible with using a big, strong but slower center like Dampier.

I disagree completely. I see no reason they can't play at the same pace they did this season with a center like Damp. They did it for most of the season with Kurt Thomas, and I really don't think he's that much quicker than Damp.

And yeah, it's about defense too. Not sure how you separate the defensive rebounding part from defense. You're right that a running game can be generated off of blocked shots, forced turnovers and defensive rebounds, but.....again, you're back to the need for a defensive team.

The "it's not even about defense bit" was really sort of tongue in cheek. All I meant was that I think the biggest weakness in their game isn't stopping penetration as quite a few people seem to think. It wasn't mean to be taken that seriously. Besides, I see no reason they couldn't be a good defensive team if only they had someone to patrol the paint. We all know Nash isn't what you'd call a stopper, but their perimeter defense really isn't that bad. Not much worse than the Mavericks' anyway.

And as the Mavericks have shown, you can improve your defense a lot by slowing the game down, allowing your defense to get into position, and controlling the tempo at a slower pace--all of which goes against what the Suns do.

No argument from me. Personally, I think you're really shooting yourself in the foot when you only allow yourself to play at a very specific pace. However, it's what the Suns do best, and I don't see how a player like Dampier would prevent them from doing so.

Actually, you just raised another point. Having an actual center on the court would improve their half court defense dramatically which would allow them to play at a slower pace if need be. I'm sure they'd still prefer to run, but I don't think it would kill them to slow the pace down a bit, as it seems to presently.

MFFL
06-05-2006, 08:46 AM
Phoenix will have about $62M in salaries next year before draft picks and resigning Thomas. They will have to go with a short bench again next year unless the owner decides to pay luxury tax.

MavsFanFinley
06-05-2006, 10:08 AM
Nash, Amare, and Marion all have max contracts.

What are they going to do with Diaw and Barbosa? If they don't make some changes this summer they may be forced into something next year.

kg_veteran
06-05-2006, 01:51 PM
From the AP:

"We can walk around with our head held high," forward Shawn Marion (http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/3332/) said. "If injuries wouldn't have set us back, we probably would have won the title."

Yeah, well I suppose if the Kings had made their FTs, they'd have been champs. Or if the Blazers had just maintained their composure in the 4th quarter that one time, they'd have been champs, too.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Just211
06-05-2006, 02:23 PM
I don't think Amare will be enough.
The Suns are basically a better version of the 2003 Mavs. It will always come down to hitting Jump shots. And doing that well enough in a 7 game series against 2-3 good teams in a post season is a lot to ask for.

alexamenos
06-05-2006, 02:29 PM
Amare.....I'll believe it when I see it. I don't believe it's a given that he's going to be the same Black Jesus when he returns. The dude has already missed a year with an injury, but six months from now we expect to see him play like he did before he went down?????

I could be greatly mistaken here, but how many other extremely quick and explosive big
men have missed an entire season because of knee problems and then returned as their former selves?

like-i-said....I'll believe it when I see it.

cheers

ballin_boi
06-05-2006, 04:18 PM
Amare has been Dysed. He will not be the same. Even if he comes back close to the same he will be more susceptible to future injuries now.

Nash isn't getting any younger... he's gonna blow his tires out soon.

Marion, Amare and Nash all have monster contracts and they will need to resign their supporting cast really soon. It comes down to them becoming a whole lot less effective altogether or being even thinner than they already are.

Suns aren't going to make it out in the West, not at least for the next little while.

nashtymavsfan13
06-05-2006, 06:12 PM
The Suns with Amare are going to be a tough team to beat. We can do it though, but I'd rather worry about this year's title first :)

Thespiralgoeson
06-05-2006, 06:24 PM
The Suns with Amare are going to be a tough team to beat. We can do it though, but I'd rather worry about this year's title first :)

Are they though? I mean honestly, I don't mean disrespect, but that team is in a very delicate situation. It could realistically blow up for them very quickly.

Hell, look at Sacramento. In 2003 they were possibly the best team in the league, a team that was universally respected and often feared. Then Webber injures his knee (the same injury Amare suffered) and two seasons later, they're pretenders. The season after that, they're in full-blown rebuilding mode.

Not saying the same thing is guaranteed to happen in Phoenix, but with Amare's knee, and their financial situation, it's very possible.

dude1394
06-05-2006, 08:52 PM
They'll be getting Kurt Thomas back too. He should help with their rebounding and post D and he has a nice 15-foot jump shot.

They HAD kurt thomas back but d'antoni wouldn't play the dude. I don't really want to hear that one.

chumdawg
06-05-2006, 10:31 PM
Are they though? I mean honestly, I don't mean disrespect, but that team is in a very delicate situation. It could realistically blow up for them very quickly.

Hell, look at Sacramento. In 2003 they were possibly the best team in the league, a team that was universally respected and often feared. Then Webber injures his knee (the same injury Amare suffered) and two seasons later, they're pretenders. The season after that, they're in full-blown rebuilding mode.

Not saying the same thing is guaranteed to happen in Phoenix, but with Amare's knee, and their financial situation, it's very possible.This is quite true, and quite insightful (as is dude's observation that Kurt Thomas was indeed available to him THIS year, much less next). But if there's anything the Suns have shown, it's the ability to bounce back and always land on their feet. If their financial situation causes them to lose a Diaw or similar (not likely, I don't think, as I expect they will be willing to spend money on their own guys), they will find someone else to replace him with.

Sarver is from the pre-profit-Cuban mold. He is willing to spend now in order to collect profits later. His boys aren't going anywhere. And they will probably find some ways to maneuver some salary around in order to get some more talent in there.

Thespiralgoeson
06-05-2006, 10:48 PM
This is quite true, and quite insightful (as is dude's observation that Kurt Thomas was indeed available to him THIS year, much less next). But if there's anything the Suns have shown, it's the ability to bounce back and always land on their feet. If their financial situation causes them to lose a Diaw or similar (not likely, I don't think, as I expect they will be willing to spend money on their own guys), they will find someone else to replace him with.

Sarver is from the pre-profit-Cuban mold. He is willing to spend now in order to collect profits later. His boys aren't going anywhere. And they will probably find some ways to maneuver some salary around in order to get some more talent in there.

You're probably right, Chum. Nash, Marion and Amare are locked up, and I doubt Diaw is going anywhere. The rest of those guys are all interchangeable spares frankly, Bell's deadly shooting notwithstanding. However, I don't think the Maloofs are shy about spending either. Bottom line, I think it all comes down to Amare's knee. Assuming he's even 80% of what he was before, they should be in good shape. However, I find that doubtful, because A. it's a microfracture, and B. he missed the entire season. Even Webber didn't miss that much.

Still, getting back to my original point, I think the one thing they need is the same thing the Mavs needed for all those years; a center who can rebound and defend the paint.

And when talking the future of the franchise, one must also remember that the mastermind behind Phoenix's recent success is now in Toronto. Not sure if that will come back to haunt them, but I can tell you as a Mavs fan I'm sure glad Donnie Nelson ain't in Toronto.

dude1394
06-05-2006, 11:21 PM
The one thing it seems however that they cannot replace is nash. And if he's going to continue to break down every series, how will they get it done?

I guess if they sweep it would work but the reason they can't find a pg to replace him is that he makes it go so much. WILL it go without him? It didn't before.

chumdawg
06-05-2006, 11:21 PM
I think a big part of the reason Colangelo is in Toronto is that he's already done everything he can do with the Suns. It's true, it all depends on Amare. One thing I believe, though, is this: If Amare returns at 90% of his former self (which I deem likely), they most certainly do NOT need a bigger man to rebound and defend the paint. That man wouldn't fit in their scheme, if STAT were healthy.

Really, all that team needs is for STAT to come back healthy, for Barbosa to mature enough to take the load off Nash, and either to keep enough of their own guys or to find enough replacements in the offseason, such that their starters (Marion included) don't have to be so stretched in the regular season.

That team is flat effing stacked with talent if STAT comes back healthy. They will be WAY more fierce than they were in 2005. (Or 2006, obviously.)

chumdawg
06-05-2006, 11:25 PM
The one thing it seems however that they cannot replace is nash. And if he's going to continue to break down every series, how will they get it done?

I guess if they sweep it would work but the reason they can't find a pg to replace him is that he makes it go so much. WILL it go without him? It didn't before.I know this is a popular sentiment, but really, when you think about it, Nash didn't wear down any worse than anyone else did. It is commonly held in stat circles that playoff stats go down about 10% on average for everyone in the postseason (lot of reasons for that). Hell, our own Uberman basically checked out of one game completely. And everyone else had at least a game or two that you wouldn't be proud of. Particularly our guys who play counterpart to Nash. Hell, Terry made a habit of showing up once or twice per series. If Nash does even half that, the Suns are done a long time ago.

Nash is fine. The Suns just need more help for him.

dude1394
06-05-2006, 11:28 PM
I know this is a popular sentiment, but really, when you think about it, Nash didn't wear down any worse than anyone else did. It is commonly held in stat circles that playoff stats go down about 10% on average for everyone in the postseason (lot of reasons for that). Hell, our own Uberman basically checked out of one game completely. And everyone else had at least a game or two that you wouldn't be proud of. Particularly our guys who play counterpart to Nash. Hell, Terry made a habit of showing up once or twice per series. If Nash does even half that, the Mavs are done a long time ago.

Nash is fine. The Suns just need more help for him.

I have to disagree with you there chum...Stevie looked pretty whooped out there and his minutes were going down in the last playoff series, not up.

He's certainly going to slow down at some time in his life, he has too and that looks to be an issue that the suns can't seem to overcome. Maybe I'm naive but they seem to go so off in the weeds without nash that I don't know how they will replace him in their style.

Thespiralgoeson
06-05-2006, 11:43 PM
I think a big part of the reason Colangelo is in Toronto is that he's already done everything he can do with the Suns. It's true, it all depends on Amare. One thing I believe, though, is this: If Amare returns at 90% of his former self (which I deem likely), they most certainly do NOT need a bigger man to rebound and defend the paint. That man wouldn't fit in their scheme, if STAT were healthy.

Really, all that team needs is for STAT to come back healthy, for Barbosa to mature enough to take the load off Nash, and either to keep enough of their own guys or to find enough replacements in the offseason, such that their starters (Marion included) don't have to be so stretched in the regular season.

That team is flat effing stacked with talent if STAT comes back healthy. They will be WAY more fierce than they were in 2005. (Or 2006, obviously.)

I'm sorry Chum, I just don't buy it. I'll believe a team can win a championship without a real center when I see it. As I said before, I just don't think you can win when you sacrifice rebounds, and that's what a small lineup does.

And again, I still see absolutely no reason whatsoever that a Damp-like bigman hinders their offense in any way shape or form. Fastbreaks are triggered by defensive-stops. Rebounds, blocked shots, steals... the Celtics and Lakers won like 20 championships playing this way.

Besides, the thing that makes their offense so deadly is really about 30% outrunning people (which they could still do) and about 70% the fact that they run the pick and roll better than any team in the league. Again, I daresay their offense would be even more deadly with a big, rebounding center.

dude1394
06-05-2006, 11:44 PM
Wow this bickley fella must be getting paid by the suns. Destiny? Man talk about privledged thinking??

Believe it, this system works; NBA title is in Suns' destiny

Dan Bickley
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

http://www.azcentral.com/sports/columns/articles/0605bickley0605.html

chumdawg
06-05-2006, 11:56 PM
I'll believe a team can win a championship without a real center when I see it. What you are going to see in the next several years is the redefinition of what a "real center" is. These players are changing. They are getting bigger and more athletic. Witness Boris Diaw, who can play some 1 and also some 5. It's crazy, but it's the modern game.

I suspect the day is near when a guy like Dampier won't have a place in this league. (Would he have one now, if Shaq wasn't still going?) You are going to have to be athletic to play in this league going forward. Else some 6'10" guy who can leap through the roof and shoot threes over your head is going to own you. Plodders like Damp are going to see their usefulness decline.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 12:08 AM
What you are going to see in the next several years is the redefinition of what a "real center" is. These players are changing. They are getting bigger and more athletic.

I suspect the day is near when a guy like Dampier won't have a place in this league. (Would he have one now, if Shaq wasn't still going?) You are going to have to be athletic to play in this league going forward. Else some 6'10" guy who can leap through the roof and shoot threes over your head is going to own you. Plodders like Damp are going to see their usefulness decline.

Chum, this is a whole different debate, but I just don't believe it. The fact is, there are too many Chris Kamans in the league. The center position ain't going anywhere. Besides, if the rest of the NBA IS going to start playing natural PF's at center, then I think by the end of his career Yao Ming truly will have been as dominant as Shaq, because there will have been nobody in the entire league that could keep him out of the paint. No hack-a-Yao either, seeing as how the dude shoots 80 something percent.

Once again, I'm sorry, but I just don't see this influx of Amare Stoudemires into the NBA that everyone else seems to. Amare is a freak. There isn't one player in the NBA like him, and there never has been before. Not one.

Witness Boris Diaw, who can play some 1 and also some 5. It's crazy, but it's the modern game.

Chum, you know I've given Diaw his props, but come on. What Diaw is doing is NOTHING new. Jesus, it seems people have forgotten a few names like MAGIC EFFING JOHNSON! OR LARRY EFFING BIRD! Or how about Oscar Robertson? Hell, isn't boris Diaw really just Antoine Walker only with good shot selection?

What Diaw is doing is nothing new. He's a very large point guard. Rare? Sure, but by no means new.

I'm sorry, but I just don't see this evolution of the game that everyone else seems to.

There's a very good reason the game has been played a certain way throughout its entire history. BECAUSE IT'S WHAT FRIGGIN WORKS!

Centers will always play center. Power forwards will always play power forward and so on. Players like Amare are the exception, not the rule.

Edit: Besides, my whole point is that Amare SHOULDN'T be the exception. He's a power forward. He should play power forward. If Phoenix's PF/C combo consists of Marion and Stoudemire, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that they will NEVER, and I mean, NOT EVER win a championship.

Murphy3
06-06-2006, 12:20 AM
It's not about wearing Nash down as much as it is about slowing Nash down. The Mavs might have found a way to do that with Josh Howard.

As for Amare, I hope that he never returns to the same level. Why? Because he appears to be an ignorant prick and because he's a Mavs opponent.

dirno2000
06-06-2006, 12:25 AM
I too will believe the league is changing when I see it. It's hard to win a title when you're getting a** raped on the boards every night.

That's not to say small guys can't rebound because they can. The problem is, they expend more energy doing it and it tends to catch up with you.

Murphy3
06-06-2006, 12:27 AM
Well, if they have a lineup of Nash, Diaw, Marion, Amare and Thomas..they won't have a small lineup.

dirno2000
06-06-2006, 12:31 AM
True but I'm not convinced that they'll play Thomas when Amare gets back. Don't know if D'Antoni can resists putting another 3-point shooter on the floor.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 12:35 AM
Well, if they have a lineup of Nash, Diaw, Marion, Amare and Thomas..they won't have a small lineup.

Well, they're not AS small, but Thomas is still a 6-9 PF. Besides, he's on the downside of his career. It's a step in the right direction though.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 12:40 AM
Spiral-- Of course the league is changing. It started changing when Magic played point guard at 6'9". It's continuing to change to this day. Centers aren't true pivot players like they used to be. Not most of them, anyway. At least 20, and probably 25, teams in this league are ALREADY playing a guy at center who is nothing at all like the centers of a couple decades ago.

The league is changing because the size difference between centers and guards is diminishing. You think there are going to be a whole lot more six-foot guys make it in this league? I don't.

It's changing, to be sure. And hell, when it comes to center, it has probably already changed. Guys like Shaq and Yao and Damp are dinosaurs anymore in this league. Guys like Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor are the future.

dirno2000
06-06-2006, 12:55 AM
Chum both of those guys are PF's and they play with 7 foot centers. And Chris Paul, the best PG to enter the league in years is about 6 feet. Most guards are going to be around 6-feet. Players like Shaun Livingston will continue to be the exception.

edit: If the game is really changing Joel Pryzbilla should have a hard time finding a decent deal this summer right?

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 01:02 AM
Spiral-- Of course the league is changing. It started changing when Magic played point guard at 6'9". It's continuing to change to this day. Centers aren't true pivot players like they used to be. Not most of them, anyway. At least 20, and probably 25, teams in this league are ALREADY playing a guy at center who is nothing at all like the centers of a couple decades ago.

The league is changing because the size difference between centers and guards is diminishing. You think there are going to be a whole lot more six-foot guys make it in this league? I don't.

Chum, I just don't see it. You say 20, 25 teams aren't playing centers like the ones in the old days. Of course they are. The only difference is, they're not as good. If you're telling me that the level of talent at the center position has diminished then I don't think anyone could possibly argue that. However, the role they play just isn't disappearing, Chum. It's not. Posting up, rebounding, blocking shots, fighting for position, put-backs, hookshots, pivots, up-and-unders... It's as fundamental to the game of basketball as the arms and legs are to the human body. Sure, you technically can live without them, but you're helpless.

It's changing, to be sure. And hell, when it comes to center, it has probably already changed. Guys like Shaq and Yao and Damp are dinosaurs anymore in this league. Guys like Dwight Howard and Emeka Okafor are the future.

Uh, what? Dwight Howard? Emeka Okafor? Chum, in what way are they any different? I'll admit, Howard's an athletic freak, but he's still a back-to-the-basket player with no midrange game to speak of. Sure, maybe he relies more on his quickness than he does his strength, but that's really nothing new either. Emeka Okafor? What the hell is he doing that hasn't been done by countless players in NBA history?

Chum, I'm sorry, but I just think you're flat out wrong. You say guys like Shaq and Yao are dinosaurs... If that's the case, maybe that explains why Shaq is still so friggin good at his age, because everyone else is going small??

As I said above, if the center position is changing as you say, then Yao Ming will dominate the league in a way that hasn't been seen since a young Shaq, or dare I say, a young Kareem. If Yao is going to spend the rest of his career being guarded by guys Emeka Okafor, and Boris Diaw, then he is going to average 33 and 15.

If there's any position in the game that's disappearing, it's small forward, or perhaps even point guard. It seems the game is dominated these days by 2-3 swingmen and combo-guards. Guys like Nash, Kidd, and Paul seem to be stand-outs.

Edit: But then again, that's nothing new either. Guys like Jerry West and Dennis Johnson spent their whole careers playing both positions.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 01:08 AM
Well, Dirno, you know as well as I do (better, I'm sure) how games can change. How many 5'9" corners are getting drafted in the NFL? Some (like the Chris Paul's), to be sure. But not many.

I believe the Cowboys drafted a 6'4" or 6'5" safety, didn't they? It won't be long before most corners are Bobby Taylors out there.

Look at a guy like Flutie. At one time he would have been able to play the game as well as anyone. But the game had *already* passed him by, before he could ever make it to the pros. A 5'9" QB now? Um, it will never happen.

These things don't necessarily happen immediately, but they do happen with a momentum of their own. Of course the center position will still be bigger than the other positions (with the Euro's, if not the Americans), but if they aren't skilled they won't be able to get by on size alone. The days of a big, lumbering center are probably gone for good. For good.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 01:13 AM
Spiral, I'm just saying that the day is coming, and coming quickly, when the big man doesn't have near the advantage that he used to have.

Nothing more complicated than that. That's all.

I can see a game, within ten years from now, where all five positions are obselete.

That's how fast these guys are getting bigger and stronger and faster and more skilled.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 01:18 AM
Well, Dirno, you know as well as I do (better, I'm sure) how games can change. How many 5'9" corners are getting drafted in the NFL? Some (like the Chris Paul's), to be sure. But not many.

I believe the Cowboys drafted a 6'4" or 6'5" safety, didn't they? It won't be long before most corners are Bobby Taylors out there.

Look at a guy like Flutie. At one time he would have been able to play the game as well as anyone. But the game had *already* passed him by, before he could ever make it to the pros. A 5'9" QB now? Um, it will never happen.

Apples and oranges, Chum. We're talking two completely different sports. Of course games change, and basketball has changed in many many ways over its history. However there are only 5 positions. I don't see one of them, let alone the one that's often reguarded as the most important, just disappearing.

These things don't necessarily happen immediately, but they do happen with a momentum of their own. Of course the center position will still be bigger than the other positions (with the Euro's, if not the Americans), but if they aren't skilled they won't be able to get by on size alone. The days of a big, lumbering center are probably gone for good. For good.

I'm sorry for being redundant, but once again, I'll believe it when I see it. I'm sorry Chum, but it really sounds absolutely ridiculous, just utterly utterly ludicrous to suggest that the importance of size and strength is just going to steadily diminish until players like Chris Kaman won't be able to find a job anymore.

Chum, it's just not going to happen.

sike
06-06-2006, 01:18 AM
I for one wonder how the return of Amare will stunt Diaw? He certainly won't get the ball as much as this postseason...

I actually think the Mavs would match up better with the suns if Amare is playing...because that is at least one player who will stay around the paint...for our centers to guard. and when he stayed out of foul trouble,(I know, I know) Damp made fast work of Amare at our offensive end with put back aplenty...he is simiply too small to guard any legit center.

and Murph, I totally agree that I dont want to see JT or Harris as the primary Nash defender from now on...that job must be slated for Howard.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 01:23 AM
Spiral, I'm just saying that the day is coming, and coming quickly, when the big man doesn't have near the advantage that he used to have.

Nothing more complicated than that. That's all.

I can see a game, within ten years from now, where all five positions are obselete.

That's how fast these guys are getting bigger and stronger and faster and more skilled.

Chum, what's happening now is no different than any other period in NBA history. Guys like Amare Stoudemire and Dirk Nowitzki are the sole exceptions, and they are most effective at Power Forward, not center.

When someone wins a championship playing 5 guys all between 6-4 and 6-10, I'll believe you.

But Chum, the FACT of the matter is the only team in the league that plays the kind of basketball you're talking about is Phoenix, and they have yet to get out of the western conference.

Meanwhile the Mavericks and the Heat advance to the finals playing basketball the way it always has, and IMO always will be played. BTW, a big part of why Shaq looked so dominant against Detroit was that he was being guarded by Ben Wallace; a player who fits the mold you speak of. Smaller than traditional centers, relies solely on athleticism. Sure he can't score worth shit, but still, Shaq abused him in the post.

Edit: One more time, I'm sorry for being redundant, but if there's a day when all the positions are obsolete, as you say, and all "centers," or at least the closest thing to it in this strange new game, are in the range of 6-7 to 6-10, then Yao Ming, or someone similar will come along and completely destroy everything in his path and put up Wilt Chamberlain-like numbers as players half his size who have no business playing the center position, desperately struggle to find a way to stop him from abusing them in the post, until eventually teams start signing and drafting big, muscular guys again to guard him. If the center position disappears, then some behemoth will come along and make it appear again. Eventually a Lew Alcindor is going to show up and remind everyone that ultimately, basketball IS a big-man's game.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 01:26 AM
But Chum, the FACT of the matter is the only team in the league that plays the kind of basketball you're talking about is Phoenix, and they have yet to get out of the western conference.Yet they have been in the conference finals two years running. Open your mind up, brother! How many other teams can boast that? Miami?

dirno2000
06-06-2006, 01:29 AM
Well, Dirno, you know as well as I do (better, I'm sure) how games can change. How many 5'9" corners are getting drafted in the NFL? Some (like the Chris Paul's), to be sure. But not many.

I believe the Cowboys drafted a 6'4" or 6'5" safety, didn't they? It won't be long before most corners are Bobby Taylors out there.

Look at a guy like Flutie. At one time he would have been able to play the game as well as anyone. But the game had *already* passed him by, before he could ever make it to the pros. A 5'9" QB now? Um, it will never happen.

These things don't necessarily happen immediately, but they do happen with a momentum of their own. Of course the center position will still be bigger than the other positions (with the Euro's, if not the Americans), but if they aren't skilled they won't be able to get by on size alone. The days of a big, lumbering center are probably gone for good. For good.

It all goes in cycles. Yes teams want big corners but thanks to guys like Marvin Harrison, Steven Smith and Santan Moss the 6 foot and under reciever is back in vogue. It's going to be hard for the 6'2 corner to change directions quick enough to keep up with these guys.

As for Watkins, Bill didn't sound terribly exicted about his prospects for success when asked about him. Although, that could be because he's a rookie.

I mentioned Pryzbilla because he'd be the perfect test case. he's the epitome of the big lumbering center. He's not very athletic and his only skills are blocking shots, rebounding and being tall. If what you say is true and he's a dinasour, it should be tough sledding for him this summer. He'll just have to take whatever he can get and be happy with it. I have a feeling that won't be the case though.

sike
06-06-2006, 01:30 AM
"Sure he can't score worth shit, but still, Shaq abused him in the post."

not that I want to enter this fray, but I think this could be said about Shaq and even the most beefy and traditional of NBA centers. Shaq is a fairly equal opportunity abuser.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 01:37 AM
"Sure he can't score worth shit, but still, Shaq abused him in the post."

not that I want to enter this fray, but I think this could be said about Shaq and even the most beefy and traditional of NBA centers. Shaq is a fairly equal opportunity abuser.

Which is exactly my point. My point was that the importance of size and speed are not diminishing in favor of speed and skill. They're both vital to the game.

Chum says Shaq is a dinosaur. Yes, because he's old. The position he plays, however, isn't disappearing.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 01:39 AM
It all goes in cycles. Yes teams want big corners but thanks to guys like Marvin Harrison, Steven Smith and Santan Moss the 6 foot and under reciever is back in vogue. It's going to be hard for the 6'2 corner to change directions quick enough to keep up with these guys.

As for Watkins, Bill didn't sound terribly exicted about his prospects for success when asked about him. Although, that could be because he's a rookie.

I mentioned Pryzbilla because he'd be the perfect test case. he's the epitome of the big lumbering center. He's not very athletic and his only skills are blocking shots, rebounding and being tall. If what you say is true and he's a dinasour, it should be tough sledding for him this summer. He'll just have to take whatever he can get and be happy with it. I have a feeling that won't be the case though.I don't believe the little receiver is really in vogue with personnel departments. When it comes to draft day, I think they still want size.

And they DEFINITELY want size when covering those guys. Bigger, better, faster, more. You know the deal. As Bill said about the fourth-round pick (I forget his name): "He's 6'7", 290, and runs a 4.6. It didn't take long." Measurables are everything.

Whether Pryzbilla will get a contract or not is not of concern to me. I'm concerned about how championship teams try to put together their rosters. What we saw this year was the three elite teams in the West all being reluctant to play a center, if they played one at all, past the first round. And of course, there is Detroit in the East, with Ben Wallace manning the middle.

The game is changing, right before our eyes.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 01:41 AM
Chum says Shaq is a dinosaur. Yes, because he's old. The position he plays, however, isn't disappearing.You might misunderstand me. Shaq's skillset will ALWAYS be welcome. But Shaq is a generational player (meaning, one per generation). The rest of the teams aren'nt going to try to be like Shaq, if you know what I mean, at least until there IS another Shaq. (Which I don't expect there to be, anytime at all soon.)

sike
06-06-2006, 02:00 AM
Which is exactly my point. My point was that the importance of size and speed are not diminishing in favor of speed and skill. They're both vital to the game.

Chum says Shaq is a dinosaur. Yes, because he's old. The position he plays, however, isn't disappearing.

all in all, The significance ofthe big man is not changing, the teams with the dominant big usually win, but the amount of quality bigs is at an all time shortage thus teams are adapting as they must...

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 02:07 AM
There's a reason it's at an all-time low. It's because no one plays the position anymore. An Aldridge plays on the perimeter in high school. Does ANYONE in America--at least, anyone worth his salt, play a pure five in high school anymore? No. Not unless he's fat and too unathletic to ever play in the pros.

Whatever big men are going to exist from here on out are going to be from Europe. The American guys are just too athletic and too well-trained.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 02:17 AM
You might misunderstand me. Shaq's skillset will ALWAYS be welcome. But Shaq is a generational player (meaning, one per generation). The rest of the teams aren'nt going to try to be like Shaq, if you know what I mean, at least until there IS another Shaq. (Which I don't expect there to be, anytime at all soon.)

Yes, shaq is truly a once a generation player, but chum, really, there was nothing unique about the way he's played the game. He was just the best at it. By far. Still, what he did was nothing new. He didn't revolutionize the game. Why? Because what he does is just plain vital to basketball. Big men will ALWAYS grab more rebounds than smaller guys. Big men will ALWAYS be better at boxing out, posting up, blocking shots, setting picks, and so on than smaller players. Those things are just vital parts of the game and that's not going to change.


The game is changing, right before our eyes.

Chum, you've still yet to provide me with a single example of this. Okay, there's Amare Stoudemire... Even IF Phoenix could win a championship playing him and Marion at PF/C and getting badly outrebounded every night, which I seriously doubt, I haven't seen one single shred of evidence that Phoenix wouldn't be better off playing him at Power Foward next to an old-fasioned center.

Dwight Howard? Power Forward.

Emeka Okafor? Power Forward.

Boris Diaw? A large point guard that's been seen many many times. By no means 'the wave of the future."

Chum, I just don't see how anyone could possibly believe this. It's beyond me. As far as I'm concerned, Amare is just a better version of Shawn Kemp. He's not revolutionizing the game here, and even if he was, you seem to think there are an influx of other players like him. There aren't. And still I say he should be playing power forward next to a "true" center.

Players like Yao Ming, Chris Kaman, Andrew Bogut, ZaZa Pachulia, Jamaal Magloire, Erick Dampier, Zydrunus Ilgauskas and so on are not going to have any trouble finding their way onto the court, and having a postive effect for their team. Not in the next ten years. Not ever.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 02:20 AM
Whatever big men are going to exist from here on out are going to be from Europe. The American guys are just too athletic and too well-trained.

Now there you might have a good point. Still, a 7-foot, rebounding, shot blocking, low-post scorer from Europe is still a a 7-foot, rebounding, shot blocking, low-post scorer.

sike
06-06-2006, 02:25 AM
"Amare is just a better version of Shawn Kemp"

I cannot allow that sir! The Rainman is never to be underestimated! (seriously one of my favorite players in his prime...and with far more tude than Amare)

he and his 57 children demand an apology!

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 02:29 AM
First of all, while I work up a reply, tell me just how easy it was for Big Z and Damp to find the court in each of the respective conference finals.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 02:30 AM
"Amare is just a better version of Shawn Kemp"

I cannot allow that sir! The Rainman is never to be underestimated! (seriously one of my favorite players in his prime...and with far more tude than Amare)

he and his 57 children demand an apology!

We could argue who's better. Kemp was a better defender and ball-handler. Either way, my point was that Amare has a similar skillset.

Kemp was a hell of a player, but he didn't revolutionize the game, and neither is Amare.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 02:31 AM
First of all, while I work up a reply, tell me just how easy it was for Big Z and Damp to find the court in each of the respective conference finals.

Okay, you have a point about Damp, but Gana Diop had more than his fair share of minutes in that series. Is he not an old fasioned, lumbering center, or is he one of these wave of the future guys too?

BTW, who won that series?

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 02:36 AM
As I mentioned earlier, Big Z and Damp, neither one, could find the court when the championship was determine for their respective teams.

Say what you want about Detroit and Phoenix, they have both played in the conference finals the last two years. And neither one of them plays a center.

What they play is athletes. Ahtletes will always win out.

Shaq wins out because he is a good athlete. Other 7'2" guys lose out because they are not.

It's becoming an athlete's league. The days of the lumbering center are probably over.

sike
06-06-2006, 02:36 AM
We could argue who's better.
yes...but I would win ;)

Kemp was a hell of a player, but he didn't revolutionize the game, and neither is Amare.

well said...but just to play Devil's advocate, that was a league with Dream, DRob, Deke, Ewing, etc.... none of which are to be found today

I really don't want to discuss this...I just wanted to espouse my manlove for early 90's Kemp :)

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 02:39 AM
Okay, you have a point about Damp, but Gana Diop had more than his fair share of minutes in that series. Is he not an old fasioned, lumbering center, or is he one of these wave of the future guys too?

BTW, who won that series?I think Diop is something of a hybrid. When he was heavy, he simply could not play. He couldn't play at all. When he lost a bunch of weight and got some athleticism about him, he stood a chance. (He's still a sieve, but at least he's an active sieve.)

But yes, Diop is a perfect example of my point. The extra weight was detrimental to his game. Only when he got sleeker and more athletic was he able to log some meaningful minutes.

sike
06-06-2006, 02:43 AM
I think Diop is something of a hybrid. When he was heavy, he simply could not play. He couldn't play at all. When he lost a bunch of weight and got some athleticism about him, he stood a chance. (He's still a sieve, but at least he's an active sieve.)

But yes, Diop is a perfect example of my point. The extra weight was detrimental to his game. Only when he got sleeker and more athletic was he able to log some meaningful minutes.
but that was primarily due to the fact that Diop's frame was not meant to carry that original weight...and that the weight in question was fat and not well defined muscle...as compared to a Damp or Shaq like frame.

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 02:46 AM
That's the point, Sike. If Diop had the frame of Damp and Shaq, he would be as slow as Damp and Shaq.

sike
06-06-2006, 02:48 AM
That's the point, Sike. If Diop had the frame of Damp and Shaq, he would be as slow as Damp and Shaq.
and that would be a problem playing against only just about the suns.

of course, if Diop had any....any offensive skills like say...uh...Shaq...then the suns would pay dearly for not having a big man.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 02:49 AM
As I mentioned earlier, Big Z and Damp, neither one, could find the court when the championship was determine for their respective teams.

Say what you want about Detroit and Phoenix, they have both played in the conference finals the last two years. And neither one of them plays a center.

Ben Wallace may be an undersized center, but he is still a center in every sense of the word.

What they play is athletes. Ahtletes will always win out.

Shaq wins out because he is a good athlete. Other 7'2" guys lose out because they are not.

It's becoming an athlete's league. The days of the lumbering center are probably over.

I definitely agree that the league is becoming much more athletic. But I just don't buy that the importance of size and strength are diminishing. I haven't seen a single solitary piece of evidence to suggest this. Really, it's as absurd as saying that the importance of shooting is diminishing.

But you can't point to Phoenix and say that players like Erick Dampier have no place in the NBA anymore because he didn't get minutes in that series. Phoenix is the lone exception. And frankly, I didn't like the coaching move anyway. I would've liked to have seen Damp in that series, but that's a different thread. The bottom line is, no other team in the league plays like Phoenix, and nobody has ever won a championship doing so. Your point is further mooted when you consider that Gana Diop, another conventional center took Damp's minutes.

Chum, it all comes down to rebounding and defense. Bigmen are just simply the best at this things. IMO, you can only get so far when you're always outrebounded, and can't protect the paint. Good low-post scorers are hard to come-by these days, but that makes them that much more valuble. They are as important as ever.

Lastly, I will once again say that I firmly believe that Phoenix's offense would be even more deadly with a "lumbering center" because fastbreaks are triggered by defensive stops. Rebounds, blocked shots, steals and forced turnovers... that's what makes a fast-breaking team go. Just pure speed and athleticism will only get you half way there.

Edit: You raise a valid point about Diop's weight. Still, the fact is, he's bigger than Diaw, and I think the Mavs size was most definitely an advantage in that series, and Phoenix's lack of size is what will ultimately end their run every year until they change.

sike
06-06-2006, 02:54 AM
Points for spiral for not only using “mooted” but also for italicizing it

chumdawg
06-06-2006, 03:02 AM
I definitely agree that the league is becoming much more athletic. But I just don't buy that the importance of size and strength are diminishing. I haven't seen a single solitary piece of evidence to suggest this. Really, it's as absurd as saying that the importance of shooting is diminishing. Shooting as a skil has been diminishing for many years now. As I'm sure you have noticed.

But you can't point to Phoenix and say that players like Erick Dampier have no place in the NBA anymore because he didn't get minutes in that series. Phoenix is the lone exception. Why not? Why are the "lone exception?" They have played in the conference finals two years running, and don't show signs of letting up. Why should they be summarily dismissed? Can any other Western team stake such a claim? No, I don't think so.

If Ben Wallace is a center, so is Josh Powell. Neither is, and neither will ever be.

Thespiralgoeson
06-06-2006, 03:18 AM
Shooting as a skil has been diminishing for many years now. As I'm sure you have noticed.

The game is less perimeter oriented than it has been in the past, yes, but shooting is as fundamental to the game as breathing is to sustaining life. Shooting, rebounding, driving.... Chum, that's called basketball.

Why not? Why are the "lone exception?" They have played in the conference finals two years running, and don't show signs of letting up. Why should they be summarily dismissed? Can any other Western team stake such a claim? No, I don't think so.

Yes chum, I think they can be dismissed in the same way that the Mavericks were always dismissed.

And, I don't mean to sidetrack the thread here, but again I have to say that I think Phoenix's appearance in the conference finals this year is a complete fraud. They were bailed out by the flaw in the seeding. So they beat the Lakers and Clippers in seven games each, neither of which won 50 games? Sorry, but I ain't f*cking impressed.

So yes... I am dismissing them. They didn't get past the Mavs, and I damn sure don't think they could've gotten past the Spurs, Pistons, or Heat. IMO, the 2006 Heat are the equivalent of the 2004 Mavs. Pretenders.

If Ben Wallace is a center, so is Josh Powell. Neither is, and neither will ever be.

Chum, now you're just getting ridiculous. If Ben Wallace isn't a center, than neither was Bill Russell. Neither was Moses Malone. He is a center in every way shape and form.

bobatundi
06-07-2006, 01:21 PM
There's an ESPN Insider link about "Marion the odd man out in Phoenix." I just let my subscription expire, as I'm gonna need that $5 for diapers every month--anybody read the article? Anything insightful? Find it hard to believe they'd let him go--I would think a front line of Diaw, Stoudemire & Marion would be the frontrunner for second best team in the West next season...