The great Jermaine O'Neal experiment is officially over. Three months of DNP's and lackluster numbers was all it took for GM Bryan Colangelo to send the former superstar packing.
The O'Neal acquisition, however, may not be considered a complete bust. The Raptor faithful will have to wait and see how the Shawn Marion chapter unfolds.
In a press conference held earlier today, Marion was careful to hit all the right notes, making certain to seem excited about the trade and the 'new opportunities' he would have in Toronto.
By opportunities, I am assuming Marion means a chance for personal numbers, since the Heat currently sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, while the lowly Raptors are holding down second last.
He did his best to put the abysmal season in a positive light, stating "we're only five games out of the playoffs. It's not unreachable for us. We've got 27 games to go and I think it's very obtainable."
As a long time Raptor fan, I have two immediate feelings.
The first comes from that pathetic but hopeful fan who thinks that the perennial all-star will help turn the tide for this season (unlikely). Moreover, this feeling turns to delusional fantasy when I consider the possibility of Marion taking a pay cut and staying with the Raptors (highly unlikely), allowing for the re-signing of Chris Bosh in 2010. Calderon, Bosh, Marion... shades of the run and gun Phoenix Suns?!
The second, and more realistic feeling goes like this: Bryan Colangelo made this deal to free up cap space next season. Shawn Marion will put up serious numbers in the remaining 27 games of the season. I can see him averaging 21 and 8 (particularly with Bosh sidelined right now).
The Raptors will finish in 9th or 10th spot in the East. Marion will seek an expensive, multi-year contract elsewhere.
Wait a minute. That first feeling is clawing it's way back into my brain. What if Marion continued to put up mediocre numbers? (ex. 12 ppg). What if Marion's options were limited and he wasn't in the market for the lofty pay day he so badly wants? Nah, not happening.
Even if money wasn't the issue (which it almost always is), Marion won't want to stay in Toronto. No one does. Camby, T-Mac, Vince; they all wanted out. If the rumours are true, and Bosh is leaving for Chicago, Colangelo better make damn sure that Amare wants to be in Toronto.
Because if he doesn't, no amount of winning, 'competing' or money will keep him here.
This is morphing into a different article altogether; "Why Toronto can't keep its franchise players" ... I guess that's my next assignment.