Suns News

Trading Places: Suns Face Magic for First Time Since Trade

Gortat leads all reserves with double-doubles off the bench this season.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: March 11, 2011

If a person leaves a normal organization or a relationship, for the most part, no one really ever knows what becomes of them. And that’s one of the most unique and interesting aspects of professional sports.

Everyone gets to see what happens when players suit up in different environments, like a televised social experiment. And that’s exactly what will happen when the Suns host the Magic on Sunday.

On Dec. 18, 2010, the Suns and Magic made some dramatic changes to their respective rosters. The two clubs engaged in a six-player trade that brought Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and a first-round pick to Phoenix and sent Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Earl Clark to Orlando.

The Suns veterans in the trade are underplaying the contest.

“I’ve been traded before so it’s just another game,” Pietrus said. “I’m just trying to win the next game.”

The same goes for Carter.

“Of course I want to play well and that’s a team that we need to beat, but it’s just important as the Houston game after that,” the Suns shooting guard said.

Both teams have improved from the trade. Before the swap, the Suns were 12-13.

They’re 21-17 since. The Magic have also benefitted in a similar fashion.

Orlando was 16-10 before the deal and 25-14 since.

Philosophically, Carter isn’t really that interested in what Orlando is going to do. He believes that the Suns have to focus on their game plan.

“When you’re playing for a playoff spot, it has more to do with what you need to do more than what it says on their jersey,” Carter said. “It’s a different story when you’re already established in the playoffs and you know you’re going to be there. But right now, that’s not the case.”

Gortat, who the Suns really coveted in the trade, seems to be more excited than Carter and Pietrus in facing his former teammates. Although, he's not going out of his way to hype up any one-on-one battles.

“A lot of people are saying that there’s going to be competition between me and Dwight (Howard) or between Vince and J-Rich,” Gortat said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all about winning the game.”

The Suns, who currently sit 1.5 games out of eighth in the Western Conference playoff race, have been bolstered on the interior by Gortat’s play. And when the Suns square off against Orlando, the Suns will have the player that has guarded Howard more than anyone else in the NBA.

“I really believe that I know Dwight good enough to limit him a little bit,” Gortat said. “I’m not saying I’m going to stop him, but I can limit him a little bit.”

Gortat is well-aware of the 6-11, 275-pound Howard’s physical play.

“He’s going to come out, and he’s just going to try to hurt me,” the 6-11, 240-pound Gortat said. “I know that, so I want to come out with the same mindset.”

Win or lose, Gortat knows that coming to Phoenix was beneficial for his career.

“I wish them good luck, because they have a very good basketball team and they have a chance to go all the way to the end,” Gortat said. “But this is my team and this is my family now. The last 30 games were the best of my life, and I don’t want to change that.”

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