I have lobbied for an Amar’e trade on VotS several times before, as I assumed Amar’e would undoubtedly be gone after next season and the Suns should get some quality players in return while they can.
Those two assumptions appear to be wrong, changing my stance on the talented big man.
Stoudemire’s agent has made it public that Amar’e would like to sign an extension this summer. Apparently he wants to stay in Phoenix and be “the man.”
Amar’e can express his love for Phoenix all he wants, but if the right deal came up, I would still ship him off in a heartbeat. The only problem is the right deal has yet to surface.
Reportedly the Suns had agreed to a deal in principle with the Warriors before the draft, a deal that included the 7th pick. Assuming Stephen Curry would not be available, the Warriors were set to draft Arizona’s Jordan Hill for the Suns. Hill would then be sent to Phoenix along with Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright and possibly other role players.
When Curry fell to the Warriors, Nellie and the boys backed out and jetted to the Bay with their new boy toy Steph Curry. If only Minnesota drafted Stephen Curry the Suns would be able to begin the rebuilding process around guys like Jordan Hill, Andris Biedrins, Earl Clark, Leandro Barbosa, and Goran Dragic.
While Memphis, Atlanta, and Chicago have been rumored to be interested in Stoudemire, the Golden State deal is the only one with substance. Teams are shying away from STAT’s health issues (eye and knee) and max contract demands, making it harder and harder for Kerr to move Amar’e.
With all of that said, why not keep Amar’e?
In order for Amar’e to be happy in Phoenix and for the Suns to remain competitive, several things need to happen.
This offseason the Suns need to:
1. Move J-Rich
Richardson is an exciting two-guard, but his contract is one of the main reasons the Suns will not be able to give Amar’e the extension he wants. ESPN’s Ric Bucher tweeted, “Brief talks between Hou and PHX, TMac 4 JRich. Couldn’t get the #s to work. No talk since I’m told.”
Yes this was a few days ago, but at least it is a possibility. Trade J-Rich, Tucker and salary filler for Tracy McGrady (who has a league-high $23-plus million expiring deal). This allows you to remain competitive next season, while getting one of the largest expiring contracts in NBA history heading into the most hyped offseason in NBA history.
2. Go get Tyson Chandler
The Hornets NEED to shed salary and they have chosen to cut bait with the oft-injured Tyson Chandler to do just that. The Suns are one of the only teams who can offer the Hornets that salary relief coming in the form of Ben Wallace’s contract.
New Orleans is so desperate that the Suns may be able to also squeeze the Hornets’ 2011 first-round pick out of GM Jeff Bower.
Amar’e needs a big man who rebounds, blocks shots and defends next to him to cancel out his deficiencies in those areas. Tyson Chandler is that guy. He is very injury prone, but if the Suns could revive the careers of Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal, they could work wonders with the 26-year-old Chandler.
Imagine Chandler blocking shots to ignite the break and catching lobs from MVSteve in transition. Amar’e would get to play his natural position without Shaq clogging up the paint, allowing him to attack the basket and deliver the ferocious Amar’e dunks Suns fans are used to.
3. Acquire a 2010 first-round draft pick
Kerr needs to find a way to acquire a 2010 first-round draft pick if he hopes to build a youthful yet competitive team around Amar’e Stoudemire. While it will be nice to have a 6-10 multi-talented big man to build around, if the Suns don’t have the right pieces to make that team competitive you might as well trade him.
Therefore, it is essential the Suns pick up a 2010 first-round draft pick. The Thunder have apparently inquired about Robin Lopez. Maybe they deal Ro-Lo for the Suns’ own 2010 unprotected pick. Whatever the deal is, Kerr needs to actively pursue a 2010 first-round pick.
4. Either sign and trade Nash to NY after next season or let him walk
Amar’e and Nash have tremendous chemistry, and there is no question in my mind Nash still has three to four good years left in the tank.
But he wants to win now, and after one more push next season, the Suns may have a few mediocre seasons on the horizon. If he is willing to re-sign for around $7-8 million, sign me up, but it doesn’t seem like that is a possibility. Let him walk or garner a first-round pick and some young talent from New York and finally let this be STAT’s team.
5. Sign a veteran big man
The Suns do not have a lot of money to spend this offseason, but they will be able to afford a serviceable big like Chris Wilcox. If the Suns move Lopez for a draft pick, Wilcox could sign for around $2 mil per and would fill the void down low.
If all of these tasks are accomplished and the Suns create enough cap room to sign Amar’e to a big extension, the Suns’ rosters over the next two seasons could look as follows:
PG – Nash/Dragic
SG – McGrady/Barbosa
SF – Earl Clark/Jared Dudley
PF – Amar’e/Lou Amundson
C – Tyson Chandler/Chris Wilcox
This team would compete next season with Nash, T-Mac and Amar’e pushing the tempo. If Sarver and his partners are willing to suffer financially for one more season, this team would surely fill the seats. They would also be able to shed a ton of salary at the season’s end. T-Mac’s $23 mil comes off the books, and Nash’s $13.1 million also comes off.
PG – Dragic/2010 first round pick
SG – Josh Howard/Leandro Barbosa
SF – Earl Clark/Jared Dudley
PF – Amar’e/Udonis Haslem
C – Tyson Chandler/Chris Wilcox
Although on paper it does not look like a championship/playoff team, this Suns team could easily be competitive while stockpiling draft picks for the future.
If the Suns were to draft a PG like Sherron Collins with their 2010 pick, and sign guys like Josh Howard and Udonis Haslem with the money that they get from the expiring contracts of T-Mac and Nash, Amar’e would finally get to be “the guy” surrounded by some very talented players. If the Suns are able to acquire NO’s 2011 first-round pick in the Chandler deal, the Suns would be set with two first-round picks in 2011.
Best-case scenario would be the Golden State trade WITH Stephen Curry. But if that is an aberration and Amar’e truly does want to re-sign with the Suns, there is no need to give away one of the most dynamic big men in the league for role players.
If the Suns want to keep a happy Stoudemire, fill seats, and have enough youth to build for the future, than the aforementioned five things NEED to happen this offseason – or at least something similar.
Yes, the Suns would be putting off the inevitable “rebuilding process” one more season. But at least the new team would be built around a 26-year old big man rather than a 35-year old point guard.