With the Phoenix Suns making Amar’e Stoudemire available everywhere but Craigslist, it begs the question: why are they willing, let alone eager, to unload a 26 year old big just entering his prime? It’s not often, though not without precedent (Chris Webber, anyone?), that a 6’10”, 250 lb, 4-time All-Star is on the block when he quite possibly has his best basketball in front of him. Does this say more about the state of the Suns, who are 28-23 and struggling to hang on to a playoff spot out West (currently a game behind Utah, who might pair a healthy Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer for the first time this season after the break), or Stoudemire, who is averaging 21 and 8 in a down year? What teams should be interested in the services of Amar’e?
Let’s start with
Ah, revisionist history. The Suns did have to play game 5 without Stoudemire and Diaw and they lost the series, setting the stage for their franchise-altering 2008 season, which included a trade to bring in Shaq, suddenly decide that defense was helpful in a quest to win a championship, and that Seven Seconds Or Less (SSOL forevermore) was not helping the defense or aiding in winning (of course your defense gets worse when you trade your best defender, Shawn Marion, for a guy who probably moves more in his sleep than while he’s defending the pick and roll, but I digress).
Mike D’Antoni is forced out; enter Terry Porter. This transformation, and identity crisis, was furthered earlier this season when
Sorry to repeat what you already know, but I guess that makes it easier to see why the Suns would be so desperate now. Steve Kerr has decided that the only player who isn’t going anywhere is Steve Nash, meaning their window is nearly closed. This is not a roster that can compete for a title this year, and Kerr knows it. Nobody wants Shaq and his $20M/year salary for this year and next. The only piece they have with value is Stoudemire, and it’s said that they want a talented young player (preferably a forward), expiring contracts, and draft picks in exchange for him. Apparently, this would somehow make them championship contenders while Steve Nash can still keep his drool in his mouth.
I will quickly record here my thoughts on Amar’e Stoudemire.
The Good: He is an elite talent who, despite multiple knee injuries (microfracture surgeries are harder to come back from in basketball than Tommy John surgeries in baseball), appears to have fully recovered and can be an All-Star caliber player for 4-6 more years, perhaps even longer. He is difficult, if not impossible, to defend on the pick and roll or the fast break. He has the ability to regularly hit midrange jumpers spotting up or off the dribble. His ability to knock down free throws is a plus, especially considering his physical offensive play and propensity for drawing fouls.
The Bad: He wants to be “the man.” Typically, this is a good thing in your most talented player, as it shows a desire for greatness and success. In Stoudemire’s case, however, it just means he wants to make the most money on the team and get the most shots. When I think of someone being “the man” on their respective team, I think of someone you can go to on the offensive end in clutch situations (in addition to their consistent production throughout the course of a game and season), can defend his position at an elite level, is a leader with a good attitude, and makes his teammates better. Stoudemire is not interested in playing defense, does not appear to have leadership qualities, and may or may not make the game easier for his teammates.
So where should he go?
What about my Bulls? As you probably guessed in reading my rudimentary scouting report on Amar’e, I’m less than thrilled by the prospect of having him in the windy city. If the Bulls trade away Tyrus Thomas or Noah with Gooden and a first they become a playoff team with Stoudemire. Unfortunately, they would be a low seed in the playoffs with minimal chance of winning a series and the possibility that Amar’e will be gone after just over a year (and if he isn’t it would be because the Bulls overpaid him). If
In most scenarios I am completely behind the Bulls making a trade. They are a team with no identity outside of Rose and no hope of being very good as currently constructed. I would love to see them get rid of Hughes, Gooden, or both and maybe even get a basketball player in return (addition by subtraction is acceptable). What I don’t want, however, is to sacrifice an unwritten future for a present that has MEDIOCRITY stamped all over it.