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State of the West
by Jorge Sierra / February 16, 2008

Joe Johnson - Icon Sports MediaWhat of the recent trades in the Western Conference has surprised you the most?

Joe Johnson: Probably the Shaq trade. I think it could help them. I think it could rejuvenate Shaq and help a team that's already good become great. They really had not been able to get over the hump in the Western Conference. It may end up turning to be a very good trade for them.

LaMarcus Aldridge: The Pau Gasol deal. That surprised me. I would have never thought he was going to end up with the Lakers. That really surprised me.

Ronnie Brewer: I think that every trade that you hear is surprising. Shaq to Phoenix, Pau Gasol to the Lakers... The race is so close that everybody is trying to make moves to get the upper hand.

Jeff Green: I would say none of those has surprised me. Each team that has made a big trade has gotten a lot better. They have all improved. It's going to make it tougher for us.

Eddie Johnson: I think, if it goes through, the Jason Kidd deal. That would surprise me the most. But the Gasol trade too... Because it came out of nowhere. And the Grizzlies didn't get anything back. Memphis can say they got something, but they did not. Kwame could have been that guy because he has a great body. But if you are a big man and have small hands, in this game, you are going to struggle. There's no way around that. Marc Gasol has played well in Spain, but you don't know if he can play here. Crittenton is the only player they got that you could see becoming very good!

Which Western team got stronger after all these trades?

Joe Johnson: I would probably say the Lakers. Pau Gasol adds another post player who can score and defend. You know, they already had a scoring superstar in Kobe Bryant and the guys that surround him, the shooters that they had... They pretty much have a very complete team now. I think they are going to be tough in the West.

LaMarcus Aldridge: I think the Suns got better, but I think the Lakers really did get better because they have a low-post guy now.

Ronnie Brewer: I think, so far, the Lakers. Pau Gasol had a few of double-doubles in his first games there with the team. I think that so far early early on they've had the upper hand in the trades.

Eddie Johnson: I think the Lakers got stronger, but then again I think the Lakers were weaker than the Suns before the trade. So now they would be almost be equal. The Lakers obviously have a great frontline... But can Lamar Odom play the three?

What kind of instant impact do you expect Shaq to have in Phoenix?

LaMarcus Aldridge: Nobody knows. I think we will have to wait and see how his body is going to feel and things like that.

Ronnie Brewer: I think a huge impact. Giving them an inside presence outside of Amare Stoudemire with Shaq there, they might not fast break every play now. What they are going to do on the offense now I think it's going to be effective for the team.

Jeff Green: I think it will help a lot of guys on that team because now they have an inside presence that they've never had with Shaquille O'Neal. Guys are going to have to respect Shaq down low and that's going to open up things for Amare. Steve Nash, Barbosa... It's going to open up the floor for those guys too.

Eddie Johnson: Huge! Not only with leadership, but also as an on-the-court presence. Steve Nash is one of the best leaders this league has ever seen, but when you have an imposing presence on the court getting in your face and encouraging you, that's even more powerful. I think it's going to be huge for the Suns.

If you were Mark Cuban, would you pull the trigger on the Jason Kidd deal?

Joe Johnson: I probably would. Jason Kidd, he's a special point guard and definitely makes a team better. With him going to Dallas, they would be very good. Even though Devin Harris and Stackhouse are good, they would be getting a special player in return and that's worth it.

Ronnie Brewer: That is kind of an interesting and tricky situation. I think he would really help Dallas out, but I'm not sure if that trade is going to through. But definitely, a team with Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Kidd... It's kind of scary to think about that.

Jeff Green: I can't figure that out because I'm not in that position, but if it had to go down... I would do it. It's a fresh start for him playing in a new city. I probably would.

Eddie Johnson: No. And I love Jason Kidd. He's a friend of mine, but I think they are giving up too much. Not giving up too much for Jason, but it's too much of your team that when Jason gets there he's going to see the difference... When you have Diop, Stackhouse... You're giving up a lot of players to get one. And that puts a lot of pressure on Jason Kidd, who's 35 years old.

David Robinson: Probably yeah. I mean, they obviously need to do something different to what they have been doing and you cannot get wrong bringing up a guy like Jason Kidd, especially when he is playing as well as he is. He's still playing great and is one of the best point guards in the league. That's never a mistake, bringing up a guy like that who wants to win. Is it giving up too much? I don't know. But if you keep the core of your guys together, you keep Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard... And then you get a guy like Kidd? It can only get better.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com