Finally, the Suns got rid of tentative Boris Diaw -- then they threw in defensive-minded Raja Bell for good mearure.
At least, these were the name players the team jettisoned to acquire talented two-guard Jason Richardson (pictured after a dunk) from the Charlotte Bobcats.
The 6-foot-6 Richardson is a far better offensive player than either Bell or Diaw, averaging 18.8 points a game. But his defense is suspect -- which makes us wonder how he will fit into Suns Coach Terry Porter's scheme to improve Phoenix's D
Although Diaw had looked better lately, he's infamous for his timidity on the court, often passing up easy shots under the basket and tossing the ball out to surprised teammates. Bell, at times a stellar defender, was a favorite of departed-for-the-Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni. But his shooting and defense have been off from previous years. He's expressed displeasure with Porter's slower style.
On the one hand, the trade, announced by Suns General Manager Steve Kerr this afternoon, seems another move by Kerr to De-D'Antoniize the team. On the other, Richardson's arrival could signal a return to the fast-paced game that was the former coach's signature. Or at least a faster pace than the Suns have employed since Shaquille O'Neal and low-post emphasis arrived in the desert.
The Suns also sent rookie point guard Sean Singletary to the Bobcats. In addition to Richardson, Charlotte moved small forward Jared Dudley to the Suns, and threw in a 2010 second-round draft pick.
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Richardson's twice won the slam-dunk competition at the NBA All-Star Game, and is a 40 percent three-point shooter.
Once he settles in, he should make the Suns hugely better offensively, but we wonder who's going to spell foul-prone Amare Stoudemire and O'Neal, with 6-foot-9 Diaw gone and only rookie 7-foot center Robin Lopez left in the big-man catetory.
With Shaq already absent tonight against the Lakers in Los Angeles (because of a death in his family), it'll be interesting to see how the Suns fare with two long-time major members of their roster on their way to the Deep South. Richardson isn't expected to join the Suns until Friday's home game with the Orlando Magic. -- Rick Barrs