Marion Traded … Again

Joining his fourth team in less than two seasons, ESPN reports that former Suns player Shawn Marion has been dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in a four-team trade. Marion’s carousel of team changes went as follows:

- In 2007, the Suns refuse demands for a max contract extension at around $20M per season.

- Suns trade Marion in mid season 2008 to Miami for Shaq.

- Marion opts in for the final year of his contract at $17.8M.

- Miami offers a three-year extension at $10M per season. Marion refuses.

- Miami trades Marion in mid season 2009 to Toronto.

- Toronto reportedly offers a four-year extension at over $8M per season. Marion refuses.

- Toronto trades Marion in off season 2009 to Dallas.

- Marion reportedly agrees to a five-year contract at slightly less than $8M per season.

Other than getting less than half of what he made last season, this move should be positive for Marion. He returns to a winning team with a chance to go deep in the playoffs. However, just how the Mavericks will integrate Marion and the somewhat similar player in Josh Howard remains to be seen.

But the storyline that has been dismissed by many pundits is the go-for-broke moves that former Suns GM Bryan Colangelo has made to turn around his team’s fortunes immediately. If you recall, the Toronto Raptors were supposed to progress into one of the elite teams in the East. Needless to say, 2008-09 was a disaster with the team registering only 33 wins.

Like he did with the Suns in 2004, Colangelo has responded by taking an aggressive approach to changing the Raptors, not willing to wait around for a multi-year rebuilding project. He has shed salaries and made key acquisitions. His highest profile signing is Hedo Turkoglu, a player with great all-around skills who had a monster 2009 NBA playoff run. Although most pundits claim that at age 30, Turkoglu is somehow on the verge of decline, I believe his game is more like Jason Kidd’s, where his passing ability and basketball IQ will allow him to still be effective into his late 30s.

Significantly, by structuring the Turkoglu acquisition as a sign-and-trade for Marion and other players, Toronto has preserved its two salary cap exceptions: the $5.9M mid-level and $1.99M biennial. This means that the Raptors can still be active in the free agent market.

Two other important moves are the re-signing former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani and the drafting of athletic swingman DeMar DeRozan. Along with superstar forward Chris Bosh, point guard Jose Calderon, and European-style head coach Jay Triano, the Raptors appear to be ready to put on a run-and-gun style attack that is reminiscent of the Suns when they had Mike D’Antoni at the helm.

Of course the Raptors will not put any fear into opponents defensively. But that is not what run-and-gun is all about. Suns fans enjoyed four great seasons of this type of attack, and are hoping for more with the Suns retaining head coach Alvin Gentry. If the Raptors can make the playoffs and push a 50-win season in 2009-10, it will be a huge coup for Colangelo and cement his place as one of the best GMs of his time. However, if the Raptors continue their losing ways, it will bring back memories of some of Colangelo’s worst deals such as the trades to get rid of  Dan Majerle, Charles Barkley and Jason Kidd. Time will tell.

The bottom line is Colangelo has committed to his superstar (Bosh) and has made bold moves to build the team around the star. Perhaps the Suns would do well to follow the same strategy.

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