Raja Bell, Boris Diaw Traded to Bobcats for Jason Richardson
On Wednesday, the Phoenix Suns began purging their lineup of malcontent players who weren't buying into head coach Terry Porter's new system, as well as GM Steve Kerr's vision of where this team is going.
The Suns traded D'Antoni mainstays Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a 2nd round pick in 2010. In addition, newly acquired guard Sean Singletary was also shipped in the trade. He was, of course, acquired in the offseason from the Houston Rockets.
Raja had been vocal throughout the season about his unhappiness in the new system and his lack of shots. He had good reason to if you ask him... D'Antoni and Steve Nash helped convert Bell from a defensive-minded guard, into a 3-pt shooting, swaggerin', "I deserve more money" shooting guard type of a guy. Bell started to think he was the shit, getting his scoring numbers up, landing commercials and endorsements (albeit locally), and generally being regarded as one of the Suns toughest players. While Bell will certainly be missed, especially by a stunned Nash. His lack of effort & results to start the season, however, are ultimately what led to his departure.
Boris Diaw on the other hand, had been playing "ok" basketball, but certainly nothing to write home about. He was here one night and off in space the next 2-3 games - nothing consistent unfortunately. Now theat the trade is completed, we hear that Diaw was "not having fun" anymore - like he did under D'Antoni. While Diaw appeared to have a solid NBA game while Amare Stoudemire was out w/ a knee injury a couple years ago, he just didn't seem to have his full arsenal when Amare returned. Coming off the bench and with the occasional start this year, you would think he might have the opportunities he needed to succeed, but apparently this was not where he wanted to be.
In Jason Richardson (J-Rich), the Suns get a bigger, stronger and more athletic shooting guard to compliment Nash, Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal. Richardson can create his own shot, hit the 3-pointer and will no doubt become a fan favorite quickly w/ his amazing leaping & dunking abilities. While his defense may not be up to par w/ Raja (a couple years ago), he can hold his own and should help the team in a big way.
I forget where Jared Dudley played college ball, but he's a solid bench guy that will come in and utilize his minutes playing defense, rebounding and fouling the other team. I wouldn't expect a lot of minutes from him or points, but he can give Amare and/or Shaq a breather when necessary.
The biggest issue w/ the trade I see is team chemistry. Nash and Bell were good buddies going back to Dallas, so it will be interesting to see how the Suns' 2-time MVP reacts to the new situation. He certainly struggled against the Lakers last night, but everyone's allowed a few bad games. The shot attempts situation will be the most interesting and likely lead to the most angst between players - if there will be any. Amare wants the ball, Shaq wants the ball and J-Rich is going to want the ball as well - there just are not that many shots to go around to please each player... at least on a nightly basis.
Overall rating of the trade B - B+ at this point. Let's see how the team jells & go from there.