With Nash’s deal done, Amare’s should be next

Posted by on July 23rd, 12:21 am

After giving the Phoenix Suns seven seasons of posterizing dunks and highlights, Amar'e may have played his final game in a Phoenix Suns uniform.

Does this look like the future face of your Phoenix Suns to anyone else?

Entering this offseason, the Suns’ so-called “Big Three” all faced major question marks as to their futures in Phoenix.

We knew they all wouldn’t be back, but we also knew they all wouldn’t be gone.

I have supported the Shaq trade throughout although the Suns received no talent whatsoever in return because I accurately figured that such a move would ensure nobody else would need to be jettisoned for salary reasons … at least so far.

Besides first-rounder Earl Clark, the Suns will now be able to field the same team as last year, only with Channing Frye manning the center position for about $19 mil less than the Shaqtus.

To me, that’s a good thing, especially since everybody will now be pulling in the same direction style-wise.

The next piece of the equation snapped into focus with the Nash extension, so now the puzzle is two-thirds complete with only the Amare question yet to be answered.

And expect it to take quite some time for that to happen.

When we first looked at the Suns this offseason, it was impossible to say what direction they would be headed in.

We were able to speculate on a number of scenarios that were out there, including cutting as much salary as possible for 2010 to get in on that action, but now there’s just the Amare variable left to deal with.

Steve Kerr has spoken about not even wanting to talk about an Amare extension before he shows the team what he can do in training camp in October.

That’s only smart in light of the severity of Amare’s eye injury and the fact that the last time the Suns threw a big extension STAT’s way, he ended up missing that season with microfracture surgery.

But the way the Suns are composed right now, they absolutely, 100 percent must find a way to eventually ink Amare to a long-term contract extension.

When you look at the core of this Suns team signed beyond this season (excluding Amare), you see a gaping hole for a big man scorer and a gaping hole for a future face of the franchise once the current face presumably hangs them up in three years.

As dynamic as that 2010 free agent class is being hyped to be, my list of players who fit those criteria anywhere close to as well as Amare does starts and ends with Chris Bosh. And don’t think for a second that has a chance of happening.

ESPN reported that next year’s cap could drop to somewhere between $50.4 and $53.6 million next year.

Not counting Amare, the Suns will be at a hair under $42 million next season if Grant Hill and Channing Frye pick up their player options.  That figures jumps to $46 million if the options for Jared Dudley and Robin Lopez are picked up as expected and it could be $48 million if Alando Tucker is picked up.

Assuming no Tucker but everyone else, the $35 million figure that would have been a reality without a Nash extension would have made the Suns a player next offseason, especially if Hill had declined his $3 mil-plus option. Then again, it’s possible nobody would have wanted to play here without the two-time MVP.

At this point it’s way too early to speculate how much Hill’s option year could affect the Suns’ 2010 flexibility, but the point is they’re not getting a max salary, franchise-saving type of guy next summer.

That is so long as they don’t sign the franchise player right under their nose.

With a luxury tax projected in the $65 million range, the Suns’ only chance at a 2010 splash is keeping their own big guy, and they could potentially do it without even being taxed.

In the past, my stance on an Amare trade has been I’m OK with it so long as they get young guns that can take this franchise into the next era.

With the young depth starting to develop and with the possibility of an OKC type of rebuilding plan scrapped with Nash officially in the fold, the Suns would most need a big to replace Amare in such a deal. Any team trying to make an Amare deal sure as hell isn’t going to be giving up a comparable big because if they had such a player they wouldn’t be interested in the first place.

Marc Stein reported that the Suns are still open to the possibility of an Amare deal, but they shouldn’t be.

It’s obvious that Kerr and Co. aren’t completely comfortable with the health of Amare’s eye and possibly even with the health of his knees as well.

He has been immature at times in the past, and it’s questionable if he necessarily deserves the kind of max contract he thinks he does.

Those Amare haters out there can pose the question, “Is Amare Stoudemire the best player on a championship team?” And the question at this point of his career is a defiant “Hell no.”

But wouldn’t you have said that about Paul Pierce two summers ago as well, before KG and Ray Ray entered the fold?

Players mature and commit themselves to winning and defense as they age, so why is it so hard to believe Amare will one day do that? He’s an uber-talented 26-year-old who has thoroughly improved his jumper and dribbling skills since he entered the league, and this analysis shows he’s not as bad of a defender and rebounder as you may think.

Honestly, I’m a bit worried this extension isn’t going to happen. Kerr has practically gone out of his way not to mention Amare being in his long-term plans, and if Minnesota had selected Stephen Curry, I kind of feel like I’d be writing about the Jordan Hill Era right about now.

But I’m not, so as the Suns wrap up Offseason 2009 and start thinking ahead to the Summer of 2010, they’d be wise to make their big 2010 free agency splash be the guy they’ve spent all summer trying to ship out.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Amare Stoudemire · Free Agency · Future · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Shaquille O'Neal · Steve Kerr · Steve Nash · Trades

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike // Jul 22, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I still like the Golden State trade but only if they gave us Biedrins and Randolph. If you traded Amare you'd need to get someone like Randolph — that kid has talent, size and heart. He reminds me of Amare but a harder worker.

  • 2 Brandon // Jul 22, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    I am torn on this Amare situation. First of all, he is an incredible offensive player. He has improved his jump shot and free throws which make him very very tough to guard.

    But for a guy his size and his talent level his defense and rebounding are not where they should be in my opinion. He says he wants a max extension but I don't think he deserves one unless he plays like a max player, ala; LBJ, KB24, KG, and Wade. Those guys are team leaders and play defense. They have the respect of their team and are looked upon the league that the elite.

    I even think of Tim Duncan, he doesn't have the athletic ability of Amare but he is a complete and better player, although he is getting older. TD plays offense, he can post players up, and is solid on D.

    In conclusion, losing Amare would hurt, but signing him to a max extension and him not being the player he should be would hurt even more.

    So Amare, put away the ego and all the talk about deserving a max contract. Go out and show the team, league, and fans.

  • 3 COREY // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:09 am



  • 4 D. Hayden // Jul 23, 2009 at 7:19 am

    That guy is the only player on our team that we can say is unstoppable. (Amar'e) As I said before when the suns involve him in the offense he picks his defense up a lot more. I don't have a real problem with his defense as much as I have problem with his rebounding. He is too talented not to be averaging 12 rebounds a game and 2 to 3 blocks. There aren't any big men with his offensive skills so defense is just an effort thing but since most people on the suns don't give two shits about D they tend to direct things toward Amar'e. Shaq defense was pitiful, we all know nash will let anyone get past him, J rich plays like a moron on defense so hell the starting five only had G Hill out there consistently playing D. They still need to go out and find a big man defensive specialist to help Amar'e out. Getting rid of Banks was stupid because he played good perimeter defense unlike nash. Why oh why won't they go out and get Chandler?

  • 5 Scott // Jul 23, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    You’ve got to re-sign him. He’s got a wild amount of skill and like you said – if the Suns are going to get any of the major guys in 2010 – HE’S THE ONE THEY CAN GET! Give him a defensive center and we’re set to contend.

  • 6 N8lol // Jul 24, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Speak english dude. Cant understand a word of that sh%t you just typed. And drop the caps skid row. Oh and ever heard of the word “punctuation”? Go look it up.

    Good analysis. Given that the cap lowers I think signing Amare is a great idea. Gives them some stability when we have little right now. I also think you are right about his improvement. Over time I think Amare will settle down and be a good defender. Maybe not Garnett style. But decent enough to make players sweat. Thats what we need.

  • 7 Artur Baguete Mascar // Jul 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Gotta agree with Brandon. He is not a max player. Period.

    And if he`s adamant about it, expect him to go to Memphis, Sota or Charlotte, cause I cant see a contender making this kinda commitment with him.

  • 8 Artur Baguete Mascarenhas // Jul 24, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Oh, and just for the sake of not being unfair: Nash should have taken less money to allow the Suns to bring better players.

  • 9 Michael Schwartz // Jul 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Totally agree with you, Artur, about Nash. At the beginning of the offseason I thought 2 yrs, $16 mil was fair. But that wasn’t going to happen after Kidd’s deal. You would think Nash would care more about taking a little less for the chance for the team to be a little better. That sounds more like Nash than initially asking for a raise from his $13 mil salary this season.

  • 10 Mike gahon // Jul 24, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I like amare, I hope if he wants a max contract , hope he shows it in games this year that he is worth all the pennys.improve he's defense and help the team in the playoffs!no more injurys!pls.wear the bloody gogles!go suns!go g.hill!

  • 11 Alshane M. // Jul 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    we need amare man hes the only guy other thn shawn marion to do things with nash that no one can stop both need each other. amare is very talented . now that we are back to the old style i think we are gunna have a very good season with the suns. richardson,nash,stoudermire,frye,and hill. thats a good squad for our running style. plus the explosive barbosa on bench.

  • 12 Mike // Jul 27, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    So uhhh… Bobcats make a stupid trade for Chandler, giving up Okafor. Could this be a primer to a huge trade between Charlotte and Phoenix? Think of the trade scenarios.


    Bobcats could give some interesting combination:

    Would you trade Stoudemire for Augustin and Chandler? Diaw and Chandler? Would be pretty hilarious to get Bell and Diaw back with Chandler for Stoudemire and a pick.

  • 13 Mike // Jul 27, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Of course Phoenix would have to give up someone else for cap issues as well as roster spots. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled the trigger on this.

  • 14 Mike // Jul 28, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    I slept on it and I’d trade Stoudemire and two others for Diaw, Chandler and a pick in a heartbeat. I’m tired of replying to my own comments Schwartz – any thoughts on this?

  • 15 Michael Schwartz // Jul 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    My first thought was to say “of course not” because it just isn’t that realistic. My second thought is that that is very interesting, but I still don’t think there’s a chance in hell of it happening. I believe league rules stipulate the Bobcats will have to wait a little while to deal Chandler, but that would be a very intriguing front line with those two guys. In the end there’s no way the Suns add the extra year with Chandler and the length in Diaw’s deal when they’ve stated a number of times they want to shed salary long term.

    I still would be open to an Amare deal if the right one came up, but I keep coming back to this. Teams that compete for championships always have a NBA top 10 guy, and what are the Suns doing giving up a 26-year-old stud who can be that guy for them for years down the road? Sure, there’s a lot not to love about STAT, but nobody else on the roster (or in your proposed trade) are of superstar quality. Amare is.

  • 16 The TrueHoop Network eBook Suns preview| Valley of the Suns // Oct 26, 2009 at 12:53 am

    [...] member of the much-ballyhooed Class of 2010 free agency class resides in Phoenix. The end result of the Amare Stoudemire Situation will go a long way toward determining the future direction of this franchise. Phoenix does not want [...]

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