With less than a week remaining before the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline, the Amare Stoudemire trade rumors are about to enter the calm before the final storm.
Nothing is going to happen the next three days as the league convenes in Dallas for All-Star Weekend, but next week Suns fans would be wise to stay within ear shot of their favorite sports new service because word of an Amare blockbuster could break at any moment.
Could Wednesday’s listless effort against the Blazers be the final impetus the Suns need to make a deal? Perhaps, but more so because it would be awfully tough to trade the starting center for the West All-Stars coming off a six-game winning streak than anything that happened from that one game, as bad as it was.
If you were to ask me right this second, I would say I believe Amare Stoudemire will take the floor at US Airways Center as a member of the Phoenix Suns next Friday when the Hawks come to town in the first game after the deadline, but at the same time I’m ready for anything. And if anything happens, I expect it to either be with Philly or Miami.
Those are the only two teams that appear interested in making a serious offer that actually have the pieces to put such a deal together. I have already written at length about why an Amare trade to Philly for Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert could make some sense for the Suns.
In any Miami talks, if Steve Kerr isn’t already skittish from what happened the last time he dealt with Pat Riley and Co., he should not even begin to exchange names before the Heat agree to include former No 2 overall pick Michael Beasley in the deal.
The consensus on Wednesday’s Daily Dime Live chat was that the Heat should not throw Beasley in such a trade when they could potentially be the favorites to sign Amare in a few months anyway if he opts out, and from a Miami perspective I agree. But from a Suns perspective, no Amare deal can happen without him.
Beasley is a 6-foot-10 future star averaging 15.5 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per contest. He can shoot it and drive it with proficiency, but his defense is not exactly a plus at the NBA level at this point. Coming out of college, I liked him over Derrick Rose after he put up a beastly 26.2-12.4 and for my money was the best player in college basketball as a freshman. The guy is only 21 and could one day be better than Amare, starting with a salary under $5 million next season.
The Suns need a young stud and they need a big to make any Amare deal worth their while, and Beasley fits the bill in both departments better than any other potential Stoudemire trade acquisition.
The biggest question mark with Beasley is where his head is at, especially after he told The Miami Herald, “If they decide to trade me, I don’t want to go. Amare’s a great player, so you understand whatever happens. You understand that it’s a business. You just have to focus on your job.”
I feel like that’s just Beasley’s immaturity speaking and that the first time he’s on the receiving end of a Steve Nash assist he would change his tune.
A league source told Yahoo! Sports that “nobody is pushing harder on this than Riley,” with practically Miami’s entire roster in play aside from Dwyane Wade, including their likely mid-first-rounder this season. With practically the whole team expiring, there are a number of combinations that could work.
ESPN’s John Hollinger (Insider) explains why Miami might be willing give up a major young asset (with a $5 million contract next season) in Beasley for the questionable future surrounding Amare:
Additionally, there are two different angles that make such a deal intriguing. First, let’s say the Heat trade Beasley for Stoudemire, who then opts in to his $17 million deal for next year. If the Heat can find somebody to take [Daequan] Cook’s $2.1 million deal off their hands at the trade deadline, they would have enough cap space to sign another free agent starting in the $10 million to $12 million range to join Wade and Stoudemire. Maybe that’s not enough to get LeBron or Chris Bosh, but it could bag them the likes of Rudy Gay, David Lee or Carlos Boozer. Plus, the addition of Stoudemire would likely take the doomsday scenario of Wade’s potential departure off the table.
If the Heat acquire Stoudemire and he opts out, that adds risk for Miami but also might be even better. The Heat could offer Stoudemire a long-term deal for less than the max and still make the case to him that he would come out ahead financially, both in terms of security and the total dollars, since he could get six years with the Heat on the open market as opposed to only three years if the Heat gave him a contract extension.
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider) concocts this hairy three-team Amare trade:
Miami gets: Amare Stoudemire (from Phoenix), Acie Law (from Charlotte), Stephen Graham (from Charlotte), Ronald Murray (from Charlotte)
Phoenix gets: Michael Beasley (from Miami), D.J. Augustin (from Charlotte), James Jones (from Miami), Dorell Wright (from Miami)
Charlotte gets: Udonis Haslem (from Miami), Daequan Cook (from Miami)
That’s a much better haul than I’ve ever thought the Suns could get: a potentially great young big, a quality young former lottery pick point guard and a couple solid role players with expiring/semi-expiring contracts. That trade makes some sense for Miami by netting them Amare and getting rid of Cook’s contract and Charlotte via their acquisition of a big in Haslem, but I just don’t see the three teams coming together on that. It’s also noteworthy that Hollinger’s analysis on Trade Machine makes every team worse as a result.
There is sure to be lots of talk in the next week, but I have a feeling we’ll still be debating the “What should the Suns do with Amare?” question come summertime.
Gentry on Amare
Suns head coach Alvin Gentry spoke about Amare before Wednesday’s game against Portland. Here are a few of the highlights:
On the trade talk: Obviously it affected him some, all the things that were said, and it would affect anybody in this room, guys, to see your name in the newspaper or on TV every day about being traded, being traded, and I think it did have a little bit of an effect on him. Then I think what happened is by going on the road it just wasn’t so in your face right then, so I think he was able to put it behind him, and now he’s been focused in. Every game on that trip he played real well. Not just the offensive part of it, I thought he did a good job of being engaged defensively. I just thought he was playing really good, solid basketball.”
On Amare’s defense: “I said to him, ‘If you want to be mentioned in the same breath as Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, LeBron and those guys, the one thing that they’ve done is all of those guys have been on the All-Defensive team. If you want to be in the same breath as those guys …’ That whole complete player thing involves being able to guard your position in this league, and I think that’s the one thing he can try to get better at, and I think that’s what he’s working to get better at. He’s a lot better now than he was a year ago or two years ago. That being said, obviously he’s still got to make a huge leap, but he’s working at it.”