The Week in Basketball: Shaq, Steve Nash, Duke, and Bob Knight

Allan WexlerCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2008

Shaq has made the news again and there is a lot of controversy as to whether the Suns ought to have made the deal which sent Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal.

I think it makes sense for both teams. The Heat probably hope that Marion does not exercise his option to stay in Miami next year, which would free up close to $20 million of cap room for the Heat and with the hope that Wade gets healthy, Haslem continues to develop, and with a top draft choice, it would not take much to make the Heat competitive again.

For the Suns, they obviously made the decision that they could never win it all as they were constituted so they broke up the big three and went for size in the middle. It will allow for Stoudemire to play the power forward position and allow them to match up better against the Spurs and Lakers.

The real problem will be on defense where Nash will now have to defend the best guards, a job usually assigned to Marion. At 34 years of age, this could really wear Nash down and lessen his effectiveness at the offensive end.

If Shaq is healthy, he will be a big help and for those that fear that he is too slow, just remember that someone has to get the rebound, make the outlet pass and need not follow the guys breaking downcourt—so his failure to run like Marion may not be such a disadvantage. At playoff time, where half court sets are more the order of the day, Shaq will fit in well.

In Toronto, the TJ Ford vs. Jose Calderone debate continues.

I can't understand why the fans of Toronto don't accept that two guards can co-exist on one team and provide that team with 48 minutes of great guard play. Both TJ and Jose have their own styles of play which give opposing teams a different look and I like the idea of the Raptors playing with these two guys for the next 10 years. Who cares who starts or who finishes? Go with the hot hand at the moment.

Fans in Toronto are back on the Andreas Bargnani bandwagon (for this week), as he has played three very good games in a row.

What's really interesting about Bargnani is that he has had great statistical games against the best teams—Lakers, Spurs, Pistons and Mavs. He has looked far more comfortable shooting the basketball and continues to improve at the defensive end.  But it's his offense that will keep him in the league and he can do it all.

I believe that Sam Mitchell will make him a complete player.

The excitement at the Duke-North Carolina game was there in spades, but the game also demonstrated the weaknesses of both teams. Duke doesn't rebound well enough to make a long run in the tournament and North Carolina can go very cold from the perimeter.

I'll tell you one thing though. Kyle Singler is one heck of a ball player. I'd love to be his agent in the years ahead.

I had an opportunity to watch UCLA-Arizona last weekend and was impressed not only with Kevin Love (player of the year?) but with the exceptional athleticism of Russell Westbrook, the UCLA guard who was an afterthought in their recruiting efforts two years ago. He can do it all and has a future at the next level.

I'm still not sold on the Lakers. Kobe is magnificent, but Gasol is weak defensively and Odom is...Odom. If he ever played to his press clippings, I would not have the doubts I have. I'm surprised the Lakers didn't try to get Lowry in the Memphis trade as they could use a pure point guard, Jordan Farmar notwithstanding.

Bob Knight will be back coaching.

I have to believe there is more to his sudden decision to step away from Texas Tech to allow his son Pat to take over the reins. My own belief is that he has already been contacted by another school which has interested him and rather than putting himself in the position of knowing he was going elsewhere while coaching TT, he stepped aside.

Look for him to be back on the bench either next year or in 2009-2010.  I also say it will be a Big 10 school, although I won't be so bold as to say Indiana.

See you all next week.