linkIs It Too Early To Fully Evaluate Trade?
Friday, March 17, 2006
OF THE DAY
Q. I hear a lot of people making snap judgments on what the acquisition of Peja Stojakovic fully means to this ballclub as it stands, but I am of the belief that you cannot decisively evaluate the Stojakovic-for-Artest trade until we see a fully healthy Pacers team on the floor (most notably Jermaine O'Neal along with Peja). I've read numerous quotes from Pacers President Larry Bird from a variety of sources indicating he was anxious to see the dynamic those two players on the floor would present alongside one another, how Peja would open up the floor for Jermaine and how Jermaine would draw the defense for Peja and the other shooters. I'm also of the belief that Bird and (Donnie) Walsh -- although with several other offers on the table for Artest -- might have preferred a perimeter style such as Peja for strategic reasons. I guess time will tell. (J.T. in Indianapolis)
A. Most of the post-trade focus, at least in terms of the national media, has been on Sacramento's strong resurgence since acquiring Artest. The Kings have indeed turned their season around and have not only transformed into a playoff team but a dangerous matchup in the first round (and possibly beyond). There's no question Artest is the primary reason for this, for which he and the Kings should receive all the credit that is due.
Those who cast the Pacers in a less positive light, however, are missing the point. Acquiring Stojakovic may well have saved their season, as well, because the team appeared to be circling the drain at the time of the deal. Though they haven't had as dramatic a reversal as the Kings, they have regained their competitive edge. But what tends to get lost in the discussion is the fact the Pacers are still without their franchise player. In fact, O'Neal was injured just before the trade was made so Thursday's practice was the first time he has shared a court with Stojakovic.
In theory, Stojakovic and O'Neal should fit together better than Artest and O'Neal because their skills are much more complementary. Stojakovic, like Reggie Miller, is a deadly long-range shooter who moves very well without the ball, is an unselfish passer and an underrated defender. Artest was much more similar to O'Neal in that he needs to be in the post as much as possible to maximize his effectiveness. Rather than having two star players competing for the same real estate, the Pacers should have a much more symbiotic tandem.
It also goes beyond pure physical skills. Stojakovic has a low-key personality, a quick smile and a friendly nature that have allowed him to fit in with his new teammates very quickly both on and off the floor. You're right in saying this trade can't be evaluated until we get a chance to see how well O'Neal and Stojakovic play together. At the moment, it's been a good trade for both teams. When those two finally team up, it could become that much better from the Pacers' perspective.
Love it Bruno, nice answer..