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Shaq and Amare will be teammates for at least 29 more games. (AP/Matt York)

Shaq and Amare will be teammates for at least 29 more games. (AP/Matt York)

That’s it.

No more sweating out today at 1 p.m. MST.

The Trade Deadline has passed, and now we can all go back to worrying about the rest of the season in peace.

Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal are still Suns, and Phoenix still boasts a roster that on paper could make a bit of a run with this return to running, even if Robert Sarver is paying the luxury tax for a team that wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

We’ve known for a few days now that Amare likely wouldn’t be going anywhere the rest of the year, but with how hot the rumors were last week, I still had a sliver of doubt he would remain with the Suns if the right team made the right offer.

As I’ve written the past few days, Amare staying is certainly for the best.

Amare has always been a better player when he’s motivated by doubters, such as proving the haters wrong in his recovery from microfracture surgery to an All-NBA level. I think Amare’s the type of player that will come out with a chip on his shoulder that his team was thinking so hard about jettisoning him, and I think we saw the start of that last night.

After the Golden State game a few weeks back, Amare was also talking about how he’s always better in the second half of the season, and as you may remember, nobody was talking about issues involving Amare and Shaq on the floor together at the end of last year when Amare exploded after the Shaq trade.

If Amare really wants to be a Phoenix Sun for life, I think this is a critical couple months for him. (VotS ESPN Radio appearance below article.)

Many Suns fans, and more importantly Suns executives, have seemed to grow frustrated with Amare’s lack of aggressiveness on the boards, porous help defense and immaturity through some comments putting blame on others.

Those flaws almost made us all forget that the guy is 26 years old and one of the most dynamic offensive forces in basketball.

If Amare steps up his leadership, hits the boards harder and shows more of a commitment to defense, why shouldn’t the Suns talk about an extension with Amare with offseason rather than trading him?

I think one or the other has to happen, either send him packing this offseason and start planning ahead to what the next decade’s Phoenix Suns will look like, or make Amare the No. 1 guy for the post-Nash, -Shaq and -Hill Suns.

Before a couple weeks ago my preference has been to build around Amare and add a nice piece in 2010. I started to waver on that thought the past few weeks, but nothing would be better for the Suns than for Amare to assert himself as that franchise guy the rest of the season.

As for The Big Rumor, I’m kind of glad Shaq will be in a Suns uniform the rest of this season and likely next year as well.

If the Suns had gotten one fat expiring contract and a big who would be an asset in the running game this season (think Lamar Odom), I would have been all for it, and I’m sure Robert Sarver would have been more than all for it.

But Ben Wallace just isn’t that guy, and with a second year on his deal, the amount of savings just didn’t add up for the Suns to pull the trigger.

The Wally Szczerbiak and Sasha Pavlovic counterproposal the Suns reportedly made would have been even worse on the court, even if the accountants would have loved Wally’s Expiring Deal. The last thing the Suns need are more swingmen, and does that mean Lou Amundson is one of your starting bigs and Jared Dudley your main backup?

Or would we be getting ready for the start of the Fropez Era?

In this matter, I deferred to the wise John Hollinger, and his analysis on Trade Machine puts the Suns seven games worse at 40-42 with Wallace in the deal and nine games worse at 38-44 with Wally’s World in it.

Thankfully, the Suns said thanks but no thanks.

For the past two weeks so many rumors have swirled around the Suns, there’s no question it’s been hard for them to concentrate.

They are professionals and they try to do their best to put all that behind them, but they’re only human.

You know Amare has to be affected by hearing his name dragged through the rumor mill all day every day, and you know it’s got to affect a team knowing each game could possibly be their last together, especially with how nostalgic Nash seems to get after trades.

All that is over, and aside from minor who’s going to fill the last roster spot tweaking, we know what the Phoenix Suns will look like for the final 29 games of the regular season and possibly then some.

Peace of mind is a beautiful thing to have for a basketball team.

Now let’s see if this team is as good as we think it can be.

For more on the state of the Suns, listen to my appearance on ESPN’s NBA Today, starting at the 15-minute mark.

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Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

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