In Part 1 of this two-part Amare Stoudemire rumors roundtable, Michael Schwartz, Mike Schmitz and Tyler Lockman discuss Amare’s value and some of the options to replace him after a day in which the Suns met with Stoudemire for three hours and “made progress,” according to The Arizona Republic.
Michael Schwartz: We are now only hours away from that special time of year when free agents can speak with teams without Worldwide Wes or any other sneaky back channels, so here at the ValleyoftheSuns there’s only one name to discuss: Amare Stoudemire. Mike Schmitz and Tyler Lockman are joining me here for a little chat on Amare’s value, what the Suns should offer, where he might be going and how the Suns could replacement him if he bounces town. And maybe we’ll even sneak in a little Channing Frye talk. So starting out guys, let’s get to the question I posed yesterday: How much is Amare Stoudemire worth?
Tyler Lockman: So we aren’t going to open with our LeBron/Wade/Bosh predictions? Hahaha.
Michael Schwartz: Wait, who are they?
Mike Schmitz: I like what you said Schwartz, almost max money, but not max years. There is no way you can give this guy more than three years, with his injury history, inability to shine as a No. 1 option and the potential departure of Nash after two more seasons.
Michael Schwartz: Yeah, like I wrote, I would give him three years at the max, but there’s too much risk in max money and max years. Sign him through the end of Nash and then figure things out again in three years.
Tyler Lockman: Hahaha. On Amare: Not worth max money, not worth a long-term risk. Really, you nailed it yesterday — three years, nearly max.
Michael Schwartz: But Lockman, you say the Suns need to do everything possible to sign the guy, correct?
Tyler Lockman: Correct. Though they can’t offer max money and I am not confident at all he will be back, I think they need to run a full court press to keep him in Phoenix, for one big reason: no guaranteed equivalent replacement.
Michael Schwartz: Now, we know the Suns likely won’t get an equivalent talent, but there are many potential replacement options as you went through last week. Schmitz, if Amare leaves, how would you replace him?
Mike Schmitz: I’ve jumped on the David Lee bandwagon recently (if there is one anyway).
Tyler Lockman: I like Lee, too, but I think he’s out of the Suns’ price range.
Michael Schwartz: How would you see Lee fitting in in Phoenix?
Mike Schmitz: I think Lee would be the perfect replacement for Amare. I’m confident you could get him to sign for the $13 million the Suns should have available, or hopefully swing a cost-cutting deal to do so.
Tyler Lockman: If you do that though, you have no money for Frye or an Amundson replacement.
Mike Schmitz: And he would be perfect in the Suns system. He’s a tremendous pick-and-roll player, scoring 1.31 points per possession out of the pick and roll and he can get out and run. And Lopez and Lee are great complements. He has a really underrated outside game.
Tyler Lockman: I suppose, but I doubt you get Lee to sign for that when the Clips, Nets and others are ready to fling money at him.
Mike Schmitz: That’s true, but I still don’t know if someone will throw him a ridiculous contract. Maybe around $15 mil a year at the most.
Michael Schwartz: It depends on if he likes the fit. If he thinks playing with Nash and for a contender can boost him to another level, I think he could find a way to feed his family on $13 mil a year. The thing is, Sarver couldn’t go in and low ball him at first.
Tyler Lockman: Which he probably would…
Mike Schmitz: It is a high possibility. I just think he’s that nice medium between the top-notch free agents and the lower-tier guys. It would be a very underrated signing.
Michael Schwartz: It all depends on where the big dominoes fall. Maybe someone gets desperate and flings money at Lee, but they’d almost be better off waiting until next summer at that point. Does anybody think the Suns have any shot at Dirk?
Tyler Lockman: I think they have more of a chance than experts think. Dirk has to have heard the Nash/Dirk reunion rumblings and got to thinking about it.
Mike Schmitz: I was pretty optimistic about it for a while, but it sounds like the Mavs are making a play for some talent to build around. If they do that I think Dirk stays. Dallas is all he knows.
Michael Schwartz: Obviously they would have to clear LB, which wouldn’t be easy. I know it’s a real long shot, but if things went sour in Dallas it would become a very real possibility. I just don’t think Cuban would ever let that happen.
Mike Schmitz: Yeah, me either, and moving LB is a lot easier said than done.
Tyler Lockman: I’m with you on that, Cuban would lose his mind if the Suns snapped up Dirk after they did Nash.
Michael Schwartz: Getting back to Amare, there’s a lot of talk about Nash making him look as good as he does. Do you guys foresee a precipitous drop if he leaves?
Tyler Lockman: Yes and no. Yes if he signs somewhere without a VERY skilled passer to feed him touches.
Mike Schmitz: Maybe not right away because I think his talent alone and hunger to prove he’s worth whatever deal he gets will result in good numbers at first. He’s just not a guy who you can really give the ball to 30 times down low and tell him to go to work, especially as his body gets older.
Michael Schwartz: Clearly Nash gives him tons of easy opportunities, but he’s a skilled enough offensive player that I don’t think he’ll be Matrix 2.0.
Mike Schmitz: No, not at all, but I don’t think he’ll be exploding for 40-point games as often.
Tyler Lockman: I think Nash could make any 15 points a game guy into a 20 a game player.
Mike Schmitz: He’s clearly one of the more offensively-gifted players in the league, but I think he’ll decline a bit without Nash.
Michael Schwartz: Another interesting contrast with Amare involves his advanced stats. According to Wayne Winston’s +/- numbers, Amare has been around average the past few years. The Basketball Value numbers have him as a negative in that same time. But on the other hand his efficiency numbers are off the chart good, and he always shoots such a high percentage. Interesting stuff, but according to those stats the Suns really have been better with him on the bench. Remember that Dallas fourth quarter when things turned around?
Tyler Lockman: The only problem with that theory is how much he turned it around after the Dallas game. He was a top-five player the rest of the season.
Michael Schwartz: He was and everybody seems to forget about that, but it seems like Planet Orange turned on him during the playoff run. How much stock to you guys put into the fact Amare hasn’t been able to propel the Suns to the top even as a second banana?
Mike Schmitz: I think it’s really important. That’s every team’s goal, to win a championship. And he’s proven that he really can’t be a No. 1 guy on a championship team. That’s not a max player to me. And a max player shouldn’t have an on/off switch or consistency issues.
Tyler Lockman: They nearly got there — ahem, Spurs — with Amare, but I don’t think he possesses the leadership skills to push the Suns over the top.
Mike Schmitz: So true, Lockman. He doesn’t have that KG swagger about him that allows him to be a leader.
Tyler Lockman: Exactly, not a max guy if he doesn’t immediately make your team a contender a la LeBron or D-Wade.
Be sure to read Part 2 to find out our predictions for the Suns this offseason.