When quizzed by reporters for a reaction to the trade request of Shawn Marion, Phoenix players spoke well of their teammate in lock step — expressing their disappointment in his comments, but also singing his praises and gently coaxing him back into the fold.
Of course, if you spend any time in Phoenix, you get as much practice stroking Marion’s ego as you do your jump shot.
But in Utah, Andrei Kirilenko’s Jazz teammates aren’t sparing the rod for their spoiled child.
Point guard Deron Williams lit up Kirilenko like Red Square during a Salt Lake City radio interview (1280 The Fan) this week, questioning Kirilenko’s work ethic and commitment as a player.
“You see Booz (Carlos Boozer) after practice shooting for 25 or 30 minutes,” Williams said. “You see Memo (Mehmet Okur) shooting for 20 minutes. You see, you know, all the rookies … and you see Andrei being the first one out the door.”
Williams even admitted he has directed passes toward other teammates because of his disgust for Kirilenko’s approach. “If he’s coming off a screen on one side and (Matt Harpring) is coming off a screen on one side … (are you) going to pass to the guy you see working every day in the gym or are you going to pass to the guy who never works on his shot, but yet wants to shoot ’em every time?”
As for the prospect of Kirilenko leaving, Williams added, “(Losing Kirilenko) will definitely hurt us, but at the same time, guys don’t want to sit across the locker room from a guy who doesn’t want to be here.”
Let’s Make A Deal?
Not so Fast
It doesn’t look like Kirilenko will wind up in Phoenix, or Lamar Odom for that matter.
NBA sources report that both the Jazz/Kirilenko rumor and the Lakers/Odom/Brian Cook deal are long shots at best.
Kobe-lobbying aside, the Lakers appear to feel the deal does little for them (are Marion and Bryant enough to make a playoff run further than the first round?) Meanwhile, Miami already owns one trophy gift-wrapped by Jerry Buss, and he doesn’t appear eager to help the Suns along with their quest.
All the other big names that have been mentioned in the trade winds this summer (Jermaine O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace) aren’t on Phoenix’s radar.
Last week: 3-0 (although both the Sun Devils and Cardinals took a toll on some fingernails.) Overall: 7-2 (Um, we’ll take it.)
ASU 37, Stanford 20: Ding, dong, “The California Curse” is dead! Of course, playing the worst team in the Pac-10 helps, but ASU hasn’t won in Palo Alto in the past four trips so this is no walkover. That 5-0 start everyone was counting on is just four quarters away.
Washington State 27, Arizona 19: Wazzo is 2-2 with losses at No. 7 Wisconsin and at No. 1 USC. Arizona is 1-3 with two losses to unranked teams in the Mountain West Conference. Coach Stoops will be doing a lot more screaming.
Steelers 30, Cardinals 17: Matt Leinart is still the starter, but he could be protected by his third right tackle of the year if Levi Brown can’t go. The Steelers are rolling and there is plenty of incentive playing against the bulk of last year’s coaching staff. Look for Kurt Warner to get playing time Sunday — and be the starter next week in St. Louis.
• Livan Hernandez has a reputation as a big-game pitcher. But if I’m Bob Melvin and I’m setting up my postseason rotation, I make Micah Owings my Game 3 starter — based on his past two starts, and his bat all season.
• Don’t be looking for that baseball card featuring Cecil and Prince Fielder next year.
In the midst of a nasty little feud with his blowhard father, young Fielder hit his 50th homer the other night, but is desperate for two more so he can pass up his dad — who had 51 in his best season with Detroit in 1990 — and shut him up.
“Let’s be honest. He’s not really the brightest guy,” Prince told reporters.
• Bears fans are lighting candles all over the city this week. If Brian Griese stinks, too … then what?