Jeff Caplan has done an outstanding job of breaking down the Shaq-to-the Suns deal from just about every angle and trying to make sense of it all.
But here are some other Phoenix factors to think about:
In recent years the Suns have pretty much given away (or sold) their draft picks to keep costs down. So, basically, they have refused cheap labor with tremendous upside just to save a buck, and that's just a terrible strategy for one of the thinnest teams in the league.
So here are the picks they didn't want the last few years (keep in mind, in some of these examples, they were drafting specifically for other teams):
Luol Deng: Traded to Chicago for rights to Jackson Vroman, cash and a future first round pick.
Nate Robinson: Traded to New York with Quentin Richardson and future considerations for Kurt Thomas and the draft rights to Dijon Thompson.
Rajon Rondo: Traded to Boston.
Sergio Rodriguez: Traded to Portland.
Alando Tucker: The Sun finally keep a player, but at this point he hasn't shown much.
Some of these players surely could have helped the Suns, or perhaps they could have just drafted players for themselves.
Then, before this season, Phoenix traded Kurt Thomas and two first-round picks to Seattle for a conditional second-round pick.
So what does all this mean?
Well, the Suns will have a very hard time rebuilding, because Steve Nash will soon be 34, Grant Hill is 35, Shaq will soon be 36 and Raja Bell is 31. And they don't have young talent behind them. Also, they still have a lot of big contracts that run until 2009-10.
The Suns have reversed their philosophy. They have gone from being ultra-frugal to basically embracing the concept of burning piles of cash.
The Suns had a good post defender who could rebound in Kurt Thomas, whose $8 million salary was coming off the books after this season. And Thomas, at this point in his career, is better than Shaq. So now they are paying more for an inferior version of Thomas. Sounds ridiculous, but that is true.
Shaq's contract is absurd. So they lose salary-cap flexibility for the next two seasons, further preventing any notion of rebuilding.
So, we are back to square one with the "Whys?" If it were me, I'd rather let Shawn Marion walk, than pay Shaq a dime.
-- Garza, Mavs Lite