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Oddly Timed Shaq Assessment From Kerr

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It had seemed to me that Steve Kerr had done a masterful job playing the PR game in the wake of the Suns' acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal earlier in the season.

He initially declined to mention that his coach had (reportedly) pushed for the trade and that he was the last one to sign off.  Instead, Kerr kept the front unified and admitted that he knew he'd look like a genius if the trade worked and an idiot if it didn't.

Good work.  That far, at least.

It gets a bit weird now that Kerr is already levying assessments on the deal.  Especially assessments like this one found in Jerry Brown's article in the East Valley Tribune:

Kerr said the trade was a success and delivered many of the desired results — even if beating the Spurs in the first round wasn’t one of them.

"Shaq brought an awful lot to our team. He was terrific," Kerr said.

"He played very well and added a totally different dimension. (Coach Mike D’Antoni) and I are on the same page in terms of Shaq, the impact he’s made and what he can make in the next couple of years.

So far as I can recall, this trade was made with one primary purpose in mind.  The Suns failed to achieve that end.  Hence, the 'success' label seems odd.

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The Suns brought O'Neal in to give them a shot to match up with Tim Duncan's Spurs above all else (and thus a shot at a championship).

A brief refresher on how that shook out: Duncan averaged 24.8 points and 13.8 rebounds per game for the series.  Shaq shot a typically abysmal 50 percent from the foul line, and even more problematically, he shot just 44 percent from the field, easily the lowest of his playoff career.  Didn't move laterally well enough to be able to stop Tony Parker's penetration or get back to stop cutting forwards from taking easy lay-ups and dunks.

Oh yeah, the Spurs won this series in five games.  Meanwhile, the Suns are stuck with Shaq for another two years at $20 million per.  Talented Shawn Marion is in Miami, and the team's mental deficit against the Spurs has only increased.

Yes, Shaq had a very positive impact on Amare Stoudemire's game, and yes, Mike D'Antoni deserves credit for getting him integrated into the system by the end of the season.  But when it was all and said and done, the Suns failed to do what they set out to do and could now have to face long-term repercussions.

It might just be wiser for Kerr to reserve judgment for now.