Despite Phoenix’s earliest postseason elimination since missing the playoffs in 2004, Suns general manager Steve Kerr felt his acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal leaned much more toward the “genius” side of his self-fashioned rating system than “moron.”
Kerr said the trade was a success and delivered many of the desired results — even if beating the Spurs in the first round wasn’t one of them.
“Shaq brought an awful lot to our team. He was terrific,” Kerr said.
“He played very well and added a totally different dimension. (Coach Mike D’Antoni) and I are on the same page in terms of Shaq, the impact he’s made and what he can make in the next couple of years.
“We struggled for the first couple of weeks and then we really started to play well. I thought Mike did a good job of making that adjustment.
“But we’re also out in the first round of the playoffs. So if the results determine if (the trade) was a success or not … that’s for you (media) to determine. We know our potential is there for being even better with a training camp and a full regular season next year.”
TOO MUCH TOO SOON
While much of the talk during the final week of the season was that a matchup with the Spurs would be favorable to the Suns because of O’Neal’s impact, it turned out to be just the opposite because of the Spurs’ guile and experience.
“The timing couldn’t have been worse for us,” Suns guard Raja Bell said.
“At some point, you have to understand the Spurs are champions for a reason. We were a team still tinkering with offenses and defenses because of personnel changes.
“We might have escaped the first round against a team not as poised and as experienced. It was the wrong team at the wrong time.”
THE END FOR PIKE?
Eric Piatkowski knows his two-year tenure with the Suns has likely ended. The question is whether he will retire or try to catch on for one more season elsewhere as a free agent.
“I’m not dumb or naïve,” said Piatkowski, who will be 38 by training camp.
“This team needs to get younger and we’re old enough as it is with the core players here. More than likely I won’t be back here.
“Playing with Steve (Nash), Shaq, Amaré Stoudemire was a good time, memories I’ll cherish. We’ll see if a great situation comes along that leads me to strap it on for one more season … if not, I’ll get ready for the next phase of life.”
Gordan Giricek, Linton Johnson, Sean Marks and Brian Skinner will also become free agents on July 1.
Giricek has indicated that he would like to return to Phoenix, and Kerr said the interest is mutual after he became a useful rotation player.
Skinner is also a depth player that could interest Phoenix.
HILL EYES RETURN
Grant Hill turned down more money from other teams to sign a one-year deal — with a player option for next year — with Phoenix. And despite a frustrating end to his season — missing much of the playoffs with a possible second sports hernia — he wants to return to Phoenix.
“Hopefully, they want me back here, because I want to be back,” Hill said.
“I’m disappointed I couldn’t play when it really mattered, but I want to make sure I have a chance to make it right. I played 70 games and I was happy with the results and I think I have a lot left to give.”