Blog Entry

Bad break for Suns, Celts (UPDATE)

Posted on: February 20, 2009 4:34 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2009 12:46 pm

It was all wrapped up in such a tidy little gift box for the Suns. After the embarrassing mismanagement of coach Terry Porter's firing during All-Star weekend in Phoenix, coupled with efforts to trade both Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal, the Suns embarked on the Alvin Gentry era with a 282-point explosion in back-to-back victories of the Clippers. After the trade deadline passed Thursday, the Suns apparently were ready to leave the shameful soap opera behind and step into a sorely needed cocoon of normalcy.

They kept Amare and Shaq and at least would be able to evaluate the product on the court without the distraction of financially motivated decisions coming from their fickle owner, Robert Sarver.

Then came the news Friday that Stoudemire underwent surgery to repair a partially detached retina in his right eye, a procedure that likely will cost him the rest of the 2008-09 season. Along with it will come the conspiracy theories and second-guessing. Just what this struggling franchise needed.

Stoudemire was injured in the midst of his 42-point, 11-rebound outburst Wednesday night against the Clippers. It is the same eye that was accidentally poked by then-teammate Boris Diaw in training camp, resulting in a Kareem-like fashion statement but no major damage. Goggles wouldn't do the trick for Stoudemire this time, though. He needed a trip to the eye surgeon, Dr. Pravin Dugel, who informed the Suns that Stoudemire wouldn't be able to return to physical activity for about eight weeks. Given that the playoffs begin eight weeks from Saturday, and that the ninth-place Suns have no reason to expect they'll make it in without Stoudemire, Phoenix is back to focusing on the tough choices ahead this summer. The basketball court, alas, will not be their sanctuary.

Did the Suns know in the hours before Thursday's trade deadline that Stoudemire would be lost for the year, and does that explain why feverish trade talks surrounding the All-Star forward stopped on a dime like Steve Nash? A good theory, but largely irrelevant. Suns president Steve Kerr said at the news conference announcing Gentry's appointment to interim coach Monday that he wanted to keep the roster intact and evaluate the impact of the coaching change. The same day -- two days before Stoudemire's injury -- Nash informed reporters that he'd spoken with Kerr and asserted, "We think the team is going to stay the same."

It'll stay the same for the next 29 games, anyway. After that, Kerr, assistant GM David Griffin, and yes, Sarver, will try to figure out what to do with the $36.4 million owed to Stoudemire and Shaq next season -- nearly half the team's payroll for two guys they spent the past three weeks trying to trade.

At the same time the Suns were digesting the impact of the Stoudemire injury, Kevin Garnett was en route to Boston for an MRI on his right knee. He landed awkwardly on it Thursday night during the Celtics' 90-85 loss at Utah. Funny how karma operates sometimes; the Celtics arrived in the middle of the night -- where else? -- in Phoenix, where they're spending the next two days preparing to take on the Suns without Garnett Sunday. Garnett will be examined by team physician Dr. Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital Saturday. The Celtics are optimistic it's not a long-term injury, but they've already ruled Garnett out for the next three games -- Sunday at Phoenix, Monday at Denver, and Wednesday at the Clippers.

What does all of this mean? In the West, it means your playoff field is set, because Dallas and Utah no doubt will be able to hold off the Amare-less Suns, who enter the weekend one game out of the eighth spot. In the East, it means Orlando GM Otis Smith was either resourceful, clairvoyant, or both when he pulled the trigger on a three-team trade that brought Rafer Alston to O-Town as a very capable replacement for injured point guard Jameer Nelson. A week ago, it looked as though Nelson's injury would cause the Magic to bow out gracefully from their perch among the quartet of teams capable of winning the championship. Now, they're the only one of the four who did anything significant at the trade deadline to help themselves.

The Celtics will be examining a fairly deep list of big men, including Mikki Moore (released by the Kings) and Joe Smith (who could be bought out by the Thunder). They're also in the market for a defender with length who can shoot (hey, what happened to that James Posey guy?) with Tony Allen sidelined eight weeks following thumb surgery. They have some time to evaluate their options and add someone by the March 1 deadline for playoff eligibility. Assuming Garnett's knee checks out OK, KG will be back and the Celtics will try to avoid walking into the playoffs with a limp.

UPDATE: Indeed, the Celts got welcome news Saturday when McKeon diagnosed a strained muscle behind Garnett's knee. The MRI showed no structural damage, and KG will miss 2-3 weeks.

The Suns? Once again, they're a mess. Will Amare stay or go? Does anyone want a Hall of Famer on his last legs drawing a $20 million salary? Will Nash get a chance to chase down a championship while surrounded by capable teammates? Or is he destined to play out his days as the lone box office draw on a rebuilding team?

All good questions. Let me see if I can find a pair of goggles through which I can see the future, and I'll let you know how it turns out.



Since: Dec 22, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2009 1:25 pm

Bad break for Suns, Celts (UPDATE)

Sometimes you just dont know the extent of an injury until after an MRI. Last year Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers tore his ACL after landing akwardly on his leg, he continued to pitch and struck out the last 2 batters he faced. He didn't pitch in the regular season after that game.

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: February 21, 2009 11:42 am

Bad break for Suns, Celts

After watching the replay a couple of times you may be right.  It did look like something funky happened on the way up.  Maybe it happened earlier though and he continued to play.  Either way it may be longer than 2 or 3 weeks.  We'll see.


Since: Jan 12, 2009
Posted on: February 21, 2009 9:32 am

Bad break for Suns, Celts

Great call Touch! What about Perkins?

Since: Feb 19, 2009
Posted on: February 21, 2009 9:27 am

Bad break for Suns, Celts

As I predicted in the first comment on this thread-- Garnett is out 2-3 weeks.  It is best for him-- just rest up for the playoff run.  Fantasy players should pick up Big Baby now.  He will average 10pt,7rebs, and a handful of blocks and steals for the next two weeks.

Since: Oct 21, 2006
Posted on: February 21, 2009 3:23 am

Bad for Suns, as a Chicago Bulls fanatic...Whew!

Thank goodness Steve Kerr and John Paxson didn't get a deal done. I was so very disappointed after the deadline. This would have cost Pax his job for sure. Chicago Bulls fans and the hometown media are already starting to turn on him. We should keep him if he's this lucky. First the NBA lotto now the block-BUST-er that never was! Can't wait to see what luck happens next

Since: Mar 31, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2009 1:57 am

Bad break for Suns, Celts

Steve Nash deserves a break, and I for sure thought that he would have been gone if they were able to get rid of Amare for some draft picks, officially marking the rebuilding of the Suns. I see him being traded this off season and they probably will push him off to the Cavs that way they can make a run at the title with LeBron there.

Since: Nov 23, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2009 9:48 pm

Bad break for Suns, Celts

This is the sign they were waiting for I guess.  There's no playoff chance without Amare Stoudemire.  The Suns should go ahead and get rid of Shaq, and look forward to next season.

Since: Feb 15, 2009
Posted on: February 20, 2009 9:41 pm

Bad break for Suns, Celts

Thats what sucks in sports is injuries. Boston has been lucky so far, but maybe that is changing now.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: February 20, 2009 8:16 pm

Bad break for Suns, Celts

Well, Phoenix is pretty well done now, perhaps a 10-20 percent chance of making the playoffs. It seems that perhaps Amare is going to be one of those : injury plagued players, a could have been : his whole career. Even by some chance Phoenix does make the playoffs, it will not matter. Playing a post up game with Shaq will never work. I doubt if many teams will be willing to invest big money for Amare now, but all it takes is one team. If Garnett is out for good, Cleveland ( and perhaps Orlando now ) jumps out in the east Either way, the East is sorta interesting now, the West? Do not tnink so, LA seems to tough, even without Bynum. A lots of issues can happen before the playoffs though. 

Since: Feb 10, 2007
Posted on: February 20, 2009 8:00 pm

Bad break for Suns, Celts

Soft .. well, i popped both my knees in the middle of a marathon and still finished strong.  However, i was out of commission for about 2 weeks after.

Garnett was walking around after, so it isn't his achilles, which is the main concern.  Few days rest and rehab, and he should be fine.

Celts let that one get away last night, a very winable game.  

But as far as the playoffs, the Celtics may have to not worry about coming in 1st or even 2nd.  They pretty much have their division locked up, so the main concern is getting everyone as healthy as possible and let the chips fall where they may.

Bottom line, Defense wins championships, and a healthy Celtic team would go a long way into the playoffs, and who knows, maybe even take another one down!


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