He's out of shape and older than his birth certificate from the waist down, but the addition of Michael Redd to the Phoenix Suns might be the perfect, low-cost move (and when you're talking about the Suns, is there any other kind of move?)
If Steve Nash is going to stick around for awhile, he needs long-range shooters to open up the floor and make defenses pay for clogging the lane. The Suns have never replaced Jason Richardson and the idea that Channing Frye could pick up that slack consistently was foolhardy. Moving Redd to the starting lineup accomplishes three things in one fell swoop:
•It gives Nash a veteran, dependable and consistent passing target in Redd, who despite his funky delivery is - when healthy - a shooter on par with the Ray Allen/Kyle Korver/Joe Johnson mold (ouch, that last one STILL hurts). He is also a consummate pro who has some weaknesses as a player (yes, defense) but makes up for it in an area the Suns suddenly, desperately need: Scoring.
•It allows Jared Dudley to return to what he does best in providing energy off the bench to change the complexion of a game. With Redd and Shannon Brown also available at shooting guard, it allows Dudley to play small forward and spell Grant Hill, who is off to a miserable start and should be pushing 30 minutes a night.
•With a dead-eye shooter on the floor, it give coach Alvin Gentry the option to start rookie Markeiff Morris at the power forward spot and team Frye with Dudley off the bench, they were the backbone of a second unit that helped propel the Suns to the Western Conference finals in 2009-10.
Of course, this team doesn't have Amar'e Stoudemire or J-Rich. Nash and Hill are older and, well, they just aren't as good. But Redd does offer a better rotation, and the opportunity to put a better rebounder (Morris) next to Marcin Gortat and turn a collection of players into a group with more defined roles.
As soon as it became apparent that Alabama would win the rematch with LSU - and that would be not long after kickoff on Monday - the playoff pushers could feel the wind at their backs and quickly broke into another chorus of "we need a four-team playoff."
But how much would that really solve? This year, a four-team playoff would have included Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma State and Stanford. Do you think fifth-ranked Oregon, who won the first Pac-12 championship game and blew out Stanford on the road by 23 points would have been cool with being the team left out? How much multi-colored, state-of-the-art whining would have emanated from Nike Town?
How about an 8-team playoff? It might have been cleaner this year, but what about next year? The NCAA basketball tournament has 64 slots and two play-in games, and every year a 20-10 team is crying the blues about how they were snubbed by the selection committee. There is a lot about the BCS not to like, but getting the best two teams on the field to decide the national championship isn't high on that list.
•The Suns and Cavaliers went into Thursday's game without a player from either team scoring more than 24 points in a single game. Of course, rookie Kyrie Irving hadn't played against Nash and the Suns yet (26 points in the win over Phoenix).
•Two more years of Bud Selig, who is becoming the Brett Favre of sports commissioners. Oh joy.
Now 77, Bud will make $22 million annually, which is twice the salary that Roger Goodell makes with the NFL. He would have made him the sixth -highest paid player in baseball last year, right between Joe Mauer and Johan Santana.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
•I like New Orleans and New England in the Saturday Divisional playoff games and Green Bay and Baltimore - the easiest pick of the weekend - in the Sunday games. I went 2-2 last week after being "Tebowed" in overtime and finally learned my lesson on the Atlanta Falcons.
•Packers-Giants will be the fun game. The Giants have a lot of the necessary components to pull of some Lambeau Larceny and Tom Coughlin in an underrated coach who always seems to be under fire in New York.
If my picks stand up, that leaves three teams with great offenses and subpar defenses (Packers, Patriots, Saints) in the conference title games. The NFL has finally gone fully finesse.
• Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org