Turn the Heat Around

Dwyane Wade limited Kobe Bryant to 17 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists on Christmas Day.

The Heat, the Heat are who we thought they were.

Remember those championship expectations that veered way off course in the month of November?

Well, they’re back.

Oh, how winning cures all that ails. We are no longer speculating Pat Riley’s seemingly imminent return to coaching or talking crazy about a possible Chris Bosh trade. There is no more talk of Lebron playing too many minutes, Erik Spoelstra not being Wade’s guy, Lebron acting unprofessional or the team not getting enough “chill time.”

The Miami Heat have started winning like so many thought they would prior to the season. Although their 12 game winning streak was snapped this week by the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat have undergone a massive transformation as a team in the last month and on Christmas day the nation saw the force that the Heat can be as they spanked the Lakers 96-80.

The Heat’s biggest problem and the reason that is supposed to stop them from winning a championship was their lack of length up front. They are supposed to be soft in the paint but yesterday their hard team defence made up for what they are short of in the middle.

Yesterday afternoon, the Heat were not giving anything easy to the Lakers and for the most part they didn’t allow easy buckets to the Lakers’ best players. They have two wing men that can play great defence when they put their mind to it and that was put on display yesterday when Wade was able to shut Kobe down to an extent that many other players cannot attest to.

However, Chris Bosh is still blocking shots at the lowest rate of his career by a fair margin and rebounding at his lowest rate since his rookie season. Until Bosh proves that he can continually rebound and block shots at a higher rate he will continue to hold the reputation as that soft as a marshmallow big man. With that being said, Chris Bosh is improving on the defensive end and his rebounding is steadily improving. He did a solid job on Lamar Odom yesterday while also grabbing 13 rebounds, which was made easier by the Lakers missing a massive amount of shots. With regards to the Odom matchup he is able to handle that one better compared to other back to the basket big man. Odom generally possesses a great advantage in his footwork on the perimeter, but that is somewhat negated when facing Bosh as that is a quality that Bosh possesses too. If the Heat do indeed end up facing the Lakers in the NBA final, I believe that the Odom-Bosh matchup will be the one that decides the series.

On the offensive end, the Heat do not look like 5 separate guys on the floor anymore. They have begun to play like a cohesive unit rather than the stagnant isolation, screen and roll team that they were not too long ago. Their offence still revolves around isolation and screen and roll plays, but the difference is the movement that they are creating out of those plays. The ball is moving more out of screen and rolls and players are learning where and how to move without the ball. Moreover, Dwyane Wade and Lebron James appear to have finally made some concessions for each other in sharing the offensive load.

In relative terms Bosh still isn’t seeing nearly the amount of touches on offence as Wade and Lebron, probably for a good reason, but I still think that the offence should be run through Bosh a bit more. Bosh has become the beneficiary in receiving easy baskets off of wing player penetration, nevertheless running a few more plays through him in the offence could add just a different dynamic to their offence.

Mike Miller should be finding himself as part of the Heat rotation in no time

Miami shot a decent percentage as an entire team from deep yesterday but isn’t it just a little scary that other than Lebron they shot 4-19 from beyond the arc as a team?

Sure, Lebron probably isn’t shooting 5 of 6 from 3 on a nightly basis but James Jones also isn’t going 1 for 6 on most nights either. There were a lot of open looks that weren’t hit yesterday and when Mike Miller gets back into the groove the Heat are going to be just that much more dangerous.

Many thought that the trio of players teamed up in Miami to avoid the difficulty and adversity that goes along with winning a championship but as we have all seen the Heat have already faced some real hardship.

It has to be a good sign for the team that they were able to overcome this early difficult and persevere to the point where they are at now. It has sunk in the players that no one is going to hand them a championship and nothing is going to be easy from here on in.

People say that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. At least as a team, things got tough and the Miami Heat have sure gotten going.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Don’t Worry Carolina, You Are Not Alone

Jimmy Clausen has not had the best season in Carolina

Last night’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers pushed the Carolina Panthers one game closer to receiving the not so coveted first overall pick of the 2011 draft. The Panthers have struggled mightily this season at quarterback, trying Matt Moore and rookie Jimmy Clausen who have both been unable to secure the starting job. Although the two quarterbacks are both young and probably would benefit from some much needed experience and mentoring, the opportunity to draft a true franchise quarterback may be too good to pass up.

However, Carolina is certainly not the only team that has had to put up with quarterbacking issues this season. This year has shown us that there are a ridiculous amount of teams that could benefit from picking up a quarterback in the offseason one way or another.

By my count there are possibly twelve teams that could be making a switch behind center. There are a number of quarterbacks in the 2011 draft class who could be viable options for the large number of teams qualifying for the category of quarterback issues. The bigger names include Andrew Luck, Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker and maybe even Cam Newton or Terrell Pryor could be prospective long-term options for certain teams.

Without further ado here is my ordering of the 12 teams who could be looking for a change at quarterback in the coming off-season.

12. Tennessee Titans. The public feud between Titans owner Bud Adams and head coach Jeff Fisher caused by the situation at quarterback has created a large amount of uncertainty amongst the organization and team. Last season, after the Titans 0-6 start under Kerry Collins, Bud Adams forced Fisher to institute Vince Young as quarterback and the Titans ended up finishing at 8-8 seemingly solidifying the starting position for Young. However, a second public meltdown from Vince Young making it well-known that the Fisher-Young relationship was declining fast made the quarterbacking situation a more up-front issue for the Titans. Adams’ insistence that Young start and Fisher’s insistence that Young is not a franchise quarterback is a flashing bright neon sign that the Titans QB situation needs to change altogether from the Collins-Young controversy. Despite the fact that both have proven that they can win games in the NFL, Collins’ age and Young’s immaturity likely establish that neither will lead the Titans to the promised land.

11. Denver Broncos. Even though Orton missed a game last week due to injury he is still 5th amongst quarterbacks in total passing yards this season. Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round last year and had a solid first NFL start last weekend. However, the Broncos are 3-11, have fired their head coach and may also be in need of change. Kyle Orton, like in Chicago, does not look to be the guy in Denver and who knows how Tim Tebow can perform in the NFL on a weekly basis.

10. Oakland Raiders. Another one of those QB carousels is in Oakland where anointed starter Jason Campbell has been fighting with Bruce Gradkowski for the starting job all season. I may have been wrong about Clausen, but Jason Campbell is still only playing mediocre as the Raiders are succeeding because of their vaunted running game. This team could use a legitimate quarterback because Campbell and Gradkowski sure aren’t it.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has played admirably but will it be enough to keep the starting job?

9. Buffalo Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown flashes of what the Bills need at quarterback but there is no way that the Harvard alum is the long-term answer in Buffalo. It is very possible that the Bills try to address this need, but if they are unable to Fitzpatrick can weather the storm in Buffalo for another season.

8. Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks still have veteran Matt Hasselbeck but he is clearly way past his heyday. The Seahawks have struggled tremendously on offence at times this season while flourishing in small doses. They may be the most bi-polar team in the NFL while their deficiencies are masked somewhat by the terrible NFC West. In all likelihood Charlie Whitehurst is not a true NFL starter. The Seahawks foolishly traded for him in the off-season and the jury is still out on him. With Hasselbeck possibly being gone at the end of the season and no one actually knowing how good Whitehurst can be, it would appear that the Seahawks should do something to try to address their need at quarterback.

7. Cincinnati Bengals. Even though the Bengals made the playoffs in 2009, the play of Carson Palmer was not the reason why. Coming into the 2010 season there was much promise surrounding the Bengals and thought that they could be a real contender if their star quarterback could return, at least somewhat, to his previous MVP form. Palmer has not delivered though as he has put up a quarterback rating of 78.7 and a touchdown to interception ratio that is close to even. This has caused the Bengals to currently be sitting at 3-11 on the season. Analysts have mentioned Palmer’s deteriorating arm strength as a potential cause to his fall as a quarterback and if this is the case, combined with his deteriorating play, then the Cincinnati front office needs to look elsewhere for their future.

6. Washington Redskins. I’m not sure too much needs to be said about this situation. With the new Shannahan regime in place, Donovan Mcnabb, who not too long ago signed an oddly structured contract, has already been benched twice in favour of Rex Grossman. Seriously?

5. Minnesota Vikings. Okay, Brett Favre didn’t work out, they sold a 3rd round pick for a few weeks of Randy Moss and Tavaris Jackson is injured so there is still no read on his ability to lead the Vikings into the future. Things are pretty crazy in Minny right now and I cannot believe that Jackson has any shot at being the long-term solution there. Joe Webb anyone?

Troy and Alex Smith have been less than stellar this season in San Francisco

4. San Francisco 49ers. Mike Singletary pronouncing Alex Smith as the 49ers quarterback of the future hasn’t helped the situation in San Fran as the 49ers got off to a 0-5 start and experimented with former Heisman winner Troy Smith at quarterback before reverting back and forth again between the two. The former number 1 pick has not lived up to expectations, is evidently not going to be the starter the coming years and it’s high time the 49ers give up on him and move in a different direction.

3. Carolina Panthers. The Panthers may have the worst record but they still have two young quarterbacks who have not been put in situations where most young NFL quarterback would be able to succeed. Like most 2-11 teams, quarterbacking is not the only personnel issue that Carolina needs to focus on. With that being said, a franchise quarterback wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

2. Arizona Cardinals. I was really surprised to see Matt Leinart cut at the start of the season. I realize that he has immaturity and work ethic issues, but it seems to me that they should have at least given him an opportunity to be the starter. Something didn’t stick into Leinart’s brain and maybe he wasn’t meant to be an NFL quarterback, but leaving Derek Anderson and John Skelton as your guys has proved to be disastrous. Needless to say, but the Cardinals could use some help behind center especially because of the fact that they are wasting arguably the best receiver in the NFL.

1. Miami Dolphins. I have put the Dolphins at the number 1 spot on my list largely because with better play at the QB spot they could actually be playing some meaningful games right now. At 7-7 they are very mediocre, but that has a lot to do with Chad Henne’s poor play as he has taken a couple of steps back as a player, while their inability to throw the ball consistently has caused their rushing game to suffer. The Dolphins could be a playoff contender with a legitimate quarterback and with some very good pieces in place right now I think they would be better served changing course towards a Chad Henne-less direction.

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Congratulations UConn Women, however…

Maya Moore led the UConn Huskies to a NCAA record 89 consecutive victories

Last night the UConn women’s basketball team broke the John Wooden led UCLA Bruins record for most consecutive college basketball victories.

89 consecutive victories, pretty good right?

Impressive maybe, but as notable sports streaks go this one ranks near the bottom of my list.

There are haters of this streak and haters of the haters of the streak. I can’t say that I am in either of those categories. Much of what I am going to say may sound sexist, possibly because it is, but it’s not meant in a derogatory kind of way. There are facts that are undeniable when it comes to this controversial topic and whether you like it or not what I’m about to say is not pure opinion, it is fact.

Behind the play of their star 6 foot senior forward Maya Moore the UConn Huskies beat Florida State in rather unimpressive fashion 93-62 to push their consecutive wins streak to 89. Fitting really.

The lack of competition faced in UConn’s record breaking victory is a microcosm of their entire streak and is one of the major aspects of women’s sports that differentiate it from men’s sports. There are far fewer girls who continue with competitive sports at the grassroots level than boys, which would obviously mean that the pool of female players for colleges to choose from for any given sport is substantially less in comparison to men.

Major division 1 colleges are built around kids who hope that they can rise up above the rest and reach the professional ranks. The money, fame and prestige of being a professional athlete is what drives so many boys to work harder than many can imagine just for a shot at a professional career.

However, this is an aspect that is not apparent in the small market of women’s professional sports. There is no money in women’s professional sports aside from tennis and golf, while the prestige and fame can often be limited to your friends, family and a blurb in the local paper.

Colleges are able to build dynasties on their ability to constantly recruit the best players throughout the country. The best players go to the winning colleges and the winning colleges continue to win because they are able to recruit the best players. The extensive pool of players creates an enormous amount of competition in men’s sports, which makes producing a dynasty such a difficult task and when a team is able to build a dynasty like John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins it is. Not that forming a dynasty is not a difficult task in women’s sports but the reality is that pales in comparison to forming one in men’s sports.

When it comes to women’s sports, a college is able to build up a reputation like any other and is in turn able to recruit the best. However, the difference here is that there are far fewer high quality players so when all the best players continually flock to that respective college there are not nearly as many quality female athletes who can go to other colleges, build teams and compete with them on an equal level. By and large there will be a couple of team’s that can give them a run for their money but in general the majority of team’s have no shot against them barring an absolute miracle.

Can you say that this is the same in men’s sports?

You really can’t because no matter the difference between division 1 schools, at any point during the regular season all it takes is a bad shooting night for a team like Duke to be defeated by some no-name school. On the other hand, the UConn’s women team just dominates other schools by so much that they are able to overcome their bad nights. In 2 years only 1 team has come within 10 points of the Huskies. Also, because of Tennessee’s refusal to play UConn during the regular season, the only team that may be good enough to give the Huskies a real run for their money doesn’t even play them.

One team, that’s it, and they don’t even play each other.

It isn’t just the lack of competition either that makes this streak just kind of “meh.” It is the amount of care that I and most other sports fans have for women’s sports in general.

A caller on the Dan Patrick show I think said it best, “I like women, I like basketball, but I don’t like women’s basketball.” It doesn’t get much more sexist than that does it, but it’s the sad truth of it.

Women’s sports are just not entertaining like men’s sports. I’m not going to beat around the bush and say I’m not sure why because I know why I’m bored out of my skull watching women’s sports. Plain and simple it is because women are not close to the same level that men are at in respect to sports.

Does that sound incredibly sexist? Sure it does, but how can you deny that fact. This whole business that women can do anything a guy can do is a bunch of garbage. Again, this isn’t mean to be a derogatory statement because I don’t mean it in the sense such as women not being as smart as men or anything like that because that’s garbage as well. However, when it comes to physical activities, like sports, women do not come close to reaching the competition level that men are at.

The lack of ability in women in relative terms to that of men makes it so women’s sports are not nearly as entertaining as men’s sports. I enjoy watching extraordinary athletes do extraordinary things but because of the in-born physical disadvantage that women possess the things they do athletically do not match up to men.

I don’t mean to say that these women are not athletic people on their own. However, strictly in comparison to men, the top female athletes simply cannot compare to top male athletes in their relative sports.

Don’t get me wrong, my hat is off to the UConn Huskies who have done the seemingly impossible. It is incredibly difficult to overcome all the adversity that accompanies the competition of an entire season, or seasons rather, and to persevere under all the pressure that came with the streak does make it impressive in a certain sense.

Nevertheless there is no way I can give it the credit that the UCLA Bruins men’s team garners for their 88 consecutive wins streak.

If you want to call me narrow-minded then feel free to do so but there is no way to overlook the fact that these women constantly faced insufficient competition as well as the general lack of care amongst the sports world leaves something to be desired from this streak of…greatness?

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Good But Not Championship Good

Will Tom Brady and his hair be able to overcome the Patriots lack of defence?

I don’t care about Michael Vick’s miracle at the Meadowlands and Tom Brady being outperformed by first time starter Matt Flynn because as much as I’d like to see Vick take the MVP award it just wouldn’t be right with the way Brady has played this season.

The problem is, despite Tom Brady and his bunch of nobodies playing outstanding on offence, the Patriots still aren’t good enough to win a championship.

Throughout the season there have been times when the Patriots have been absolutely horrendous on defence led by their defensive wizard of a coach Bill Belichek.

It isn’t like New England doesn’t have some solid pieces on defence, but they have a number holes that they haven’t been able to cover.

Devin McCourty and his 6 interceptions has given the Pats secondary a big boost this season and if it wasn’t for Ndamukong Suh he would probably be taking the rookie defensive player of the year award.

The defence is surrounded with playmakers as well with guys like Jerod Mayo, Brandon Meriweather, Tully Banta-Cain and you can’t possibly forget the abnormally large 325 pound nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

However, the Patriots defence ranks in the bottom half of the league in almost every defensive category. Their pass defence has been absolutely atrocious as they are allowing 374.6 total yards a game and 263.3 pass yards per game, which is good for 28th and 30th in the league respectively. The odd thing is that they rank 2nd in the league in total interceptions with 21 on the year, only 2 behind Philadelphia.

The offence, as most people know, has been very 2007-like this season even with the departure of Randy Moss. Tom Brady and the Patriots have been able to incorporate a brand new core of offensive “weapons” if you can even call them that.

The franchises knack for finding great talent never ceases to amaze. Rookie tight end’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have played like seasoned veterans so far this season and are only getting better. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, whose name announcers can’t seem to get enough of, and 5 foot 8 division II Heisman Trophy winner Danny Woodhead have created a formidable backfield. Also, second year kick returner/receiver Brandon Tate has provided a huge spark to both the special teams and the receiving unit.

The only constant in the line-up for New England, Wes Welker, has made everyone forget about his season-ending ACL/MCL surgery and is right back to being his old self. I guess Deion Branch also gets part marks for being a constant because in his first game back with the Patriots after re-acquiring him from the Seattle Seahawks it looked like he had never left.

The Pats offence ranks #1 in points per game and unlike their defence they are in the top half of the league in virtually every offensive category.

Devin McCourty leads the Patriots with 6 interceptions

Nevertheless, after seeing Matt Flynn’s performance manning the Green Bay offence on Sunday night football, I think I was convinced that the Patriots are not quite good enough to win a super bowl simply because of their defence. Not to take anything away from Flynn’s surprisingly impressive showing being thrust into such a difficult position with the injury to Aaron Rodgers, but the Patriots defence made the Packers offence look unstoppable at times.

It wasn’t just the passing game either though because the Patriots allowed the Packers to fool us into believing that they actually have a running game. Brandon Jackson ran 22 times for 99 yards, good for a 4.5 yard per carry average, which is 0.6 yards per carry better than his season average.

Unfortunately for the Patriots last night was not an anomaly for the much maligned defence either. In week 3 they allowed the Bills to score 30 points led by Marshawn Lynch and the Bills well-known wicked rushing attack that averaged 5.6 yards per carry that game. Peyton Hillis also torched their defence with 184 yards on ground in week 9. The Bills and Browns rank 17th and 18th in total rush yards in the NFL this season.

The Patriots have allowed certain teams and players to take advantage of their defence that a championship team should not allow. Chad Henne and Carson Palmer have both thrown for over 300 yards in losing causes while more respected players around the league Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers have also had field days all in losses to New England.

These shootout, run n’ gun style wins may be alright for the regular season but come playoff time and things aren’t going to be as easy. The Patriots offence, no matter how good it is, will have a much tougher time scoring in the playoffs with the intensity of opposing teams defences cranked up to the max.

It is inevitable that the Pats come up against a team or teams with an offence that can somewhat keep up with them and a defence that trumps theirs.

It seems like this is as good a year as any for the Patriots to be able to come out on top. The 2010 version of the NFL has no clear-cut number one team. To many fans and analysts alike the Patriots are the top team right now and it’s hard to disagree with that. However, the fact that there is no true consensus top team leaves the Patriots with as good or as bad odds as anyone to win the Super Bowl , whichever way you want to look at it.

When the Patriots come up against a team like the Ravens, Falcons or Steelers their defence flat out isn’t going to be able to do enough to allow their offence the opportunity to outscore the opposition.

They say you need to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Well, the New England Patriots are going to need a whole lot of luck if they plan on taking home another championship this coming February.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Will Gilbert Arenas be able to find his inner Agent Zero in Orlando?

Oh boy, a big blockbuster trade before the New Year even hits. What a nice early Christmas present for us basketball fans, making this already very intriguing season that much more interesting.

In case you don’t know exactly how this intricate trade between the Suns, Magic and Wizard breaks down here it is: The Washington Wizards acquired only one player, Rashard Lewis. The Orlando Magic acquired Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark. Phoenix obtained Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus, Marcin Gortat and the Magic’s 1st round pick in 2011.

This trade is an enormous change for all 3 teams, especially the Magic and Suns, and from the initial looks of it I think that it screams win for each franchise involved.

The Washington Wizards have been looking to dump Gilbert Arenas and his fat Albert Haynesworth-Vernon Wells-like contract of $111 million over 6 years. A couple of major injuries, the infamous gun incident, and Arenas not reaching even close to the level of play that he was at the season prior to signing his big contract has made former Agent 0 a very expendable player and one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA.

Moreover, the Wizards drafting John Wall #1 overall this past year has caused a lot of issues for Flip Saunders trying to figure out some way for Arenas and Wall to complement each other.

This trade should be great for the Wizards because it leaves John Wall as the starting point guard with no one breathing down his neck. John Wall has interchanged, partially because of injuries, between starting and the bench, but the departure of Gilbert Arenas gives the Wizards franchise a clear direction to where they want to go and who they want to build around.

Let’s be honest, the Wizards have a long way ago and just being able to get rid of Arenas was a step in the right direction. Not only do they free up the backcourt for John Wall, but they are also giving their franchise player a legitimate weapon in Rashard Lewis.

I’m not saying that Rashard Lewis is going to take this team to a bottom playoff seed or anything. What I am saying is that I think it’s good for the development of Wall to have a legitimate, non-ball dominating player that can theoretically assist in the scoring department and knock down shots from the outside. As I mentioned, the Wizards aren’t going to be winning too many championships in the next couple of years so I don’t think taking back the 3 years and $20 plus million each year left on Rashard Lewis’ contract is much of a concern.

Stan Van Gundy now has some new pieces to work with

For the Orlando Magic, their team looks to have reached its plateau and was in need of a change. Stan Van Gundy always seems under fire, but I guess the other option of change also presented itself. The Magic could quite possibly have added that little extra something that has been lacking since Vince Carter arrived last season. The Magic were not going to win a championship with their current roster and taking this risk should be for the best…right?

I think it was for the best for the Magic that they were able to get rid of Rashard Lewis, as well as Lewis himself, who has been in need of a change of scenery. He is currently averaging the lowest numbers of his career since his sophomore season.

Vince Carter did not play like the dynamic, isolation scorer that he has been in the past and that they hoped he would be. ,You add that to the fact that most of the time he looks like the same disinterested, talent can mask my effort kind of player and it was an easy decision for the Magic to realize he is not the guy to help lead them to the promised land.

This is the type of deal that could make General Manager Otis Smith the smartest man in the NBA or the biggest chump in the NBA.

Starting with the more minor part of this deal, the Magic were able to get Jason Richardson from the Suns who probably fills the loss Mickael Pietrus’, but I also feel he could do as good a job or an even better job than Vince Carter did starting in that 3 spot. Richardson knocks down shots, plays hard defence, is great in transition and maybe most importantly gives 100% effort on a night-to-night basis, something Vince Carter clearly did not.

Just saying his name makes me cringe but Hedo Turkoglu is going back to where it all the magic started (get it?). Turkoglu became an NBA fans household name with his highly overrated clutch play. He signed a big contract with Toronto, sat on his lazy, fat ass and was dealt to Phoenix in the offseason which did not work out as well, which I predicted.

However, if there is a situation that would work out for Turkoglu it is in Orlando. The fans actually like the guy as he is not known for being a lazy, fat ass and it could possibly shift his sorry self out of neutral gear.

Turkoglu is once again in a situation where he is comfortable and knows what is expected of him, which should help him out as he couldn’t carve out his niche in Toronto or Phoenix. Turkoglu is taking more 3’s than 2’s and is shooting a high percentage from beyond the arc, which should be a big help to the Magic as well.

The issues with him though are his lack of effort because he won’t be playing for another contract for a few years and the fact that he is getting a little older could also be contributing to his seemingly declining play.

The last and most important piece of this blockbuster deal for the Magic is taking on Gilbert Arenas. This is a big risk but it also entails big rewards if Arenas can get back to that thrilling, franchise-player level that we saw in Washington that seems like an eternity ago.

For a guy with attitude problems, moving to a contender for the first time in his career might be the jump-start that he needs to rejuvenate himself. The Magic have a very solid team so Gilbert is not going to be forced to carry the Magic and if he can just take some heat off of Dwight Howard this might be a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs.

The Suns also did a hell of a job in getting something out of this deal, at least in my humble opinion.

They were obviously looking to deal Turkoglu as he was no more than a pure 3 point shooter in Phoenix and they were able to get a couple good pieces in return.

Marcin Gortat could be the center that the Phoenix Suns need

The Magic gave up Marcin Gortat, who has been under utilized in Orlando playing behind Dwight Howard. However, Gortat could be a legitimate starting center on a number of teams in the NBA and the Suns are very thin up front. The Suns could now bring Robin Lopez or Gortat off the bench and give some extra punch to the front end of the second unit.

The Suns are also able to replace Jason Richardson with Vince Carter/Mickael Pietrus. Vince Carter is most likely going to be the starter, but honestly I don’t see him being too much help to the Suns. Carter’s play is declining with his age and he can’t be too happy about moving to another franchise on the down slope of things. Although, you never know what Steve Nash can do with players, so we can’t count Carter out completely, and it can’t be any worse than the ridiculously stupid Hedo Turkoglu experiment.

Mickael Pietrus is pretty much just a cheaper, less dynamic player than Jason Richardson, but I think he also could add something to the Suns.

If Vince Carter is able to bring a bit more game than we saw in Orlando, I think this trade makes the Suns a better team as well relative to where they were at the start of the season. They added a good piece on the front end, and even though they lost Jason Richardson, they get back two pieces that each could fill his role.

Oh yeah, nothing wrong with a first round pick either, even if it is going to most likely be a mid-late round choice from Orlando.

I think that no matter the outcome of this trade, each team did the best they could given their respective circumstances.

In a deal filled with disappointment players, each team was able to gain/get rid of pieces that should improve their franchise right now and in the future.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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