Replacing an All-Star forward is never an easy task, especially if that player has spent his entire career with the team and has come to mean a lot to the team’s fan base.
More crucial than what Amare Stoudemire means to the Phoenix Suns’ fans (many are ready to let him walk) is what he means to the Suns’ future on the floor. Without Stoudemire, the Suns are a totally different team.
But since there’s a good chance the Suns might not be able to replace Stoudemire (if he leaves) with some of the high-profile options pondered yesterday, the reality of this issue might involve the Suns acquiring a player less talented than Stoudemire to make up for his potential loss. Fans probably don’t like that thought and the Suns certainly don’t either, but the truth is that it might be their only option considering their financial situation and the appeal of other teams to the best free agents.
Simply, the Suns may have to settle for less than the best in potentially replacing Stoudemire …
Second-tier free agents
I can already hear the groans about these possible options: Al Harrington, Kenyon Martin, Tyson Chandler.
Harrington would provide decent scoring (17.7 points per game last season), but little rebounding (5.6 rpg last year). However, he may be the best of “the rest” once you get past the big names. Martin and Chandler both have early termination options and might see this as their only chance to cash in before the new collective bargaining agreement.
Martin can be a force when he wants to be, but motivation, maturity and injuries are all concerns. Chandler is another liability health-wise, but when healthy he can be a solid option in the right system.
I won’t even bother mentioning other replacement options from the free agent pool, as there aren’t many worthy of space here. The Suns may have to get used to the idea of picking up a forward who isn’t as good as Amare if he leaves. They don’t necessarily have the draw or the money that teams like Chicago, Miami and New York have. If this becomes reality, the Suns would need to focus on upgrading elsewhere on the floor.
The verdict: Not an ideal situation, but a very reasonable reality.
A sign-and-trade with Stoudemire might be a good move for everyone involved. Stoudemire could get the big deal he wants and the Suns could get something in return. The only hang-up is finding something equal (or close to) in return from a destination Stoudemire would agree to.
There’s been talk of this solution in regards to Nowitzki, but only if Nowitzki was set on leaving and wanted to play in Phoenix. A deal with the Knicks for Lee might not be too far fetched, especially if landing Stoudemire improved the Knicks’ chances of luring LeBron.
Another location that makes a lot of sense is Miami. Already a favorite in landing Stoudemire, Miami might be an ideal trade partner. If they are going to get an upgrade at forward, the Heat could be ready to part with. Beasley wouldn’t provide what Stoudemire does, but it would be better than getting nothing and there is room for him to improve. Of course, Miami has the cap space to sign STAT outright, but a sign-and-trade could free up the money to sign a third major free agent on top of D-Wade.
Trades might also be an option without Stoudemire involved. The Suns could be willing to part withor Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa’s contract would be hard to move ($14.7 million the next two years, including a player option) and he didn’t have a great year, so he’d likely have to be packaged with picks. Richardson, however, might be easier to move coming off his big year because his contract is expiring and a lot of teams are planning ahead for the 2011 free agent feeding frenzy.
The verdict: Probably the best way for the Suns to avoid getting nothing and a realistic possibility.
I think I just heard every Suns fan reading this laugh out loud. The Suns don’t have the greatest track record of late when it comes to the draft, but it is getting better. Thedraft day trade being the prime example.
The Suns also don’t have a first-round pick, so they’d need to somehow trade to move up. It’s a real long shot, but if the Suns could somehow get a pick in the top 10, they might snag a power forward who could surprise. After all, they got Stoudemire with the ninth overall pick.
The turmoil in the front office with a lame duck GM and assistant GM makes trading up even more unlikely, although there are some nice power forwards in this draft.
The verdict: Probably just a waste of time to consider … moving on.
Clark may only have 383 minutes under his belt, but the Suns are very high on his potential. Clark should develop into a serious scoring threat and a solid defender, but it could take a year or two. That may not be quick enough for the Suns.
Clark brings the size Stoudemire did and the same if not increased athleticism. Maturity and NBA strength, though, are things Clark has yet to develop.
The verdict: Possible, but pretty low on the list — more of a last resort. Clark may be ready to get rotation minutes next year, but not start. He’s more likely to replace Lou Amundson’s time (and then some) than Stoudemire’s production.