PHOENIX — Less than 24 hours after falling two wins short of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 17 years, it was understandable that the Phoenix Suns weren’t quite ready to delve into free agency talk today during their exit interviews today.
Suns General Manager Steve Kerr was very brief with the media as he declined to comment about any of the team’s free agents, and the majority of the Suns that are in limbo used the “wait-and-see” approach as well.
It is no secret that the Suns’ players and coaches want to see this group brought back, but all of that hinges on whether or not Amare Stoudemire returns to Phoenix. STAT, who is expected to opt out of his contract and test the free agent market, didn’t have anything new to say as he confirmed that his chances of staying in Phoenix are still about 50-50.
When asked whether an extension was still a possibility Amare said, “Absolutely.”
“We definitely have something good going, and if that’s possible [to stay together] then that’d be great,” Stoudemire said.
The All-Star forward said his summer decision isn’t about getting paid at all, but rather winning a championship. But you can see the dollar signs in his eyes at times and with all the hype around LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, it is clear Amare wants to be part of the free agent hoopla.
STAT did however say that staying with Steve Nash would be “ideal,” but he expressed a lot of uncertainty as to what the future holds.
“We just finished yesterday so I haven’t really thought about it all to be honest with you,” he said.
But the consensus from his teammates was that they want STAT back in a Suns uniform for the long term and will do whatever it takes to get that done.
“I’m definitely on the ‘Bring Amare Back’ campaign,” said Jason Richardson. “I think I’m going to start a website. Start a website, start a Twitter page, I’m going to do everything it takes to bring this guy back.”
“Hopefully we’re a great option and he’ll come back,” added Nash. “I love this group. I hope that’s what happens.”
Added head coach Alvin Gentry: “We like our whole team. We’d like to have our whole team back. The chemistry on this team worked well and Amare made great strides this year I think. He worked hard to try to improve his defense, got better offensively, shot the ball better. He stepped up as a leader on this team.
“Obviously we’d like to have him back. … We’ll see what he’s thinking. I wouldn’t read anything into if he did decide to opt out and test the free agent market. That’s kind of the thing that you would expect.”
Amare and the organization have yet to talk about his contract and status with the team, but Stoudemire said he expects to begin some small talk with the Suns’ front office on Monday. Stoudemire will obviously be the talk of the offseason for the Suns, but they do have a few other players who are still in limbo.
Grant Hill announced today that he will exercise his $3.3 million player option for next season, meaning he will don the purple and orange for at least one more season. The 37-year-old veteran made it clear earlier this season that he would like to retire a Sun.
Channing Frye, on the other hand, said he will decline his $2.08 million player option for next season. The sharp-shooting big man is seeking a bigger and better contract, but hopes that can be achieved with the Phoenix Suns.
“Why would I not want to be back?” Frye asked. “There’s really no reason for me not to want to come back and be a part of this group.”
Although Phoenix is his No. 1 option, Frye sounded uncertain as to where he will be next season.
“I don’t really know where I’m going to be,” he said. “It’s kind of a sucky situation because I love it here, but at the same time we have to make sure I make the right decision.”
The only unrestricted free agent that doesn’t have an option, aside from Jarron Collins and Taylor Griffin, is Lou Amundson. The 27-year-old scrappy big man turned in a career-best 4.7 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game in 14.8 minutes per game.
Amundson said he’d “love to be here,” but after gaining visibility around the league there might be a better option money-wise and playing time-wise out there for Lou.
Much like Phoenix’s other free agents, Amundson said, “I’ll just wait and kind of look at the options when the time comes.”
Kerr’s contract is also up with the Suns, but he expects to sit down with Robert Sarver and work out a new deal to continue as the Suns’ GM.
“We’ve got a great group of people here,” Kerr said. “I love working with Alvin. We’ve got a good thing going and the plan is to try to sustain it.”
Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire