For not the first time in the organization’s history, the Phoenix Suns are going for broke, making a big move for a big name; the question is will it work?
New owner Mat Ishbia and the Phoenix Suns made a significant move in the late hours of Wednesday night into the early hours of Thursday morning. It is not overly dramatic to state that the move of Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference changes the league. Instantly the Suns have gone from a puncher’s chance in the playoffs to likely being one of the top 3-4 favorites to win the NBA Championship. Phoenix has done this before, and once it worked out and once it did not, the question is, will Durant be more Barkley or more Shaq for the Suns?
When has it worked previously for the Suns?
In June of 1992, the Suns swung for the fences and hit a home run when they acquired Charles Barkley for three players – Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang. It was a move that then Suns’ owner Jerry Colangelo won an executive of the year award for, as Phoenix managed a trip to the NBA finals with Barkley leading the team.
Barkley averaged more than 23 points and 11 boards over his four seasons, and if not for Michael Jordan, the Suns likely would have won a title. And even without the title, Barkley’s tenure in Phoenix is remembered as a success, a trade Phoenix overwhelmingly won.
The sun set on Shaq in the Desert
If we fast forward a couple of decades, Phoenix again swung for the fences, only this time, they struck out. In February 2008, Phoenix GM Steve Kerr went for it, trading all-star Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks for Shaq.
The big Shaqtus, as he was termed in the desert, never really helped the Suns get over the hump, as his 16.5 points and nine rebounds over two seasons were underwhelming. Worse, the addition of Shaq and the exit of Marion signaled the end of the seven-seconds-or-less era and was the start of some dark times for Phoenix.
Now more than 15 years on from the near deadline day deal for Shaq, and more than 30 years after the Barkley trade, the Suns are at it again. Although injured at the time of acquisition, Durant has averaged nearly 30 points per game this season on some absurd shooting near 60%. When KD is healthy and back on the court remains to be seen, as does the results of this trade.
As a Suns fan, we have to hope there is more Barkley and less Shaq in the outcome.