It’s really something that when you look at the starting rosters for the West and East All-Stars you find eight untouchable forever franchise players, a ninth in Joe Johnson whom the Hawks would love to keep this offseason and then a guy who could be about to be dealt for J.J. Hickson.
We all know that the LeBrons, D-Wades and Dwights of the world are on a completely different level than Amare Stoudemire, no question about that, but it’s really something that any of their GMs would have a heart attack laughing if you offered your whole team for them whereas there are “serious talks” around dealing Amare for J.J. Hickson.
Before I get to the game, a couple more words on what you guys really care about at this moment in time: Amare Stoudemire trade rumors.
First, I’d like to say I mean no disrespect to J.J. Hickson. No, I have not seen a ton of him, and yes, I understand he’s been playing really well lately, he’s a freak athlete, and he one day could be a very good player in this league. I get all of that. I just don’t get how he could be the only real asset (aside from possibly a crappy draft pick) in a deal for a 21-9 machine like Stoudemire.
It’s been speculated that Kerr is letting his buddy Danny Ferry use him to drive down the price of Antawn Jamison (not sure why Kerr would do this, but it’s more reasonable than finding a reason why Kerr would actually do this deal, and ESPN’s Ric Bucher reported this could be the Cavs’ motive of getting the Amare to Cleveland rumors out there).
It’s also very possible that the Cavs have just been “showcasing” Hickson this February when he’s been sooooo incredible that he’s scored a whole 13 points and grabbed a whole five rebounds per game on average.
I still don’t believe Kerr would make this trade, but what if he shed J-Rich, too, and could make the Suns a player (theoretically) in the Summer of 2010?
That’s enticing, but the biggest reason the Suns shouldn’t get rid of both Amare and J-Rich, blow the rest of the season and rebuild during the Summer of 2010 goes back to that ill-fated Kurt Thomas trade. There’s no use in tanking when the Suns won’t get the benefit of the ensuing lottery pick out of it.
If they had that pick and could get salary space, this could be a great way for a fast reload, but not having that pick is one more reason not to trade Amare for J.J. Hickson, regardless of if J-Rich gets shed in the process or not. One of many reasons.
OK, let’s talk about the actual game, which the East won 141-139 on some absolutely thrilling foul shooting down the stretch. I have often complained about the fact that teams never run plays in the final seconds, they just let their best player go one-on-one and get the best shot he can get. So what to do when everyone on the floor is his real team’s best player?
George Karl had his best player in real life, Carmelo Anthony, take a terrible one-on-one three-pointer for a shot at the win. Couldn’t come up with anything more creative than that with the best players in the world at your disposal?
That was after Deron Williams pulled a Jamelle Horne and fouled in a tie game with under a minute left. Poor Jamelle, the Arizona Wildcat who mistakenly fouled a UAB player with seconds left in a tie game last season, hasn’t heard the end of it; I assume Deron Williams has already forgotten about this blunder.
With Steve Nash sitting out the fourth, the best Suns-related play of the final minute came when Amare grabbed a clutch rebound in traffic with 39 seconds left in a tied game. Man, if he’d make more plays like that we wouldn’t be talking trade about him.
For the game, Stoudemire went for 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting and a team-high-tying 10 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Steve Nash capped off his whirlwind break that was anything but a break by predictably scoring just four points but dishing out a game-high 13 assists. Nash did not score a single point in the first half, when he barely looked at the rim, instead focusing on getting his teammates in the right spots at the right times.
If his mates had hit a couple more shots and Nash had played more than 20 minutes, he could have doled out 20 assists, no problem. Steve Nash is the perfect point guard to lead an All-Star team because of his willingness and proficiency at getting everyone else involved.
It’s amazing when you can record a game-high assists total in an All-Star Game in your former city in front of a record 108,713 fans as well as win the Skill Challenge yet not have it be the best part of your All-Star break. That’s what happens when you’re one of only four countrymen to light the Olympic cauldron, a time Nash described as “the best moment of my career.”
Let’s just hope that with as much of the rest of the league has relaxed during the past four days that Nash’s crazy All-Star break doesn’t cause him to be a bit tired when the games start to count again come Tuesday in Memphis.
One final note, it was interesting to me that three of the 10 All-Star starters played on that special 2004-05 Suns team, with Joe Johnson getting the start for the East along with Nash and Amare for the West. My oh my, if the Suns had only found a way to keep that squad together.