Tonight begins a few crazy weeks of NBA musical chairs.
If you want to know who’s going where you might as well consult ESPN’s Free Agent Slot Machine. It has about as good a chance of being accurate as any expert out there.
In the next few weeks we’re going to hear more misinformation than what you’d expect in the slimiest political campaign, and when the dust settles it might be difficult to recognize the league formerly known as the National Basketball Association.
Some teams will be big winners, others will panic and throw their maximum salaries at the next available elite player.
Some teams could set themselves up as dynasties and others could blow their futures with insane contracts to risky players.
The Suns could bring back Amare and Channing and give it another go, they could sign just one of their free agents, they could try to sign a guy like David Lee as a replacement (Dirk sounds like too much of a pipe dream to even mention) or they could be shut out of all the big names and just go for Channing and another mid-level-type big.
So many franchises will drastically change for the better or worse that the entire league seems to be freaking out now that teams can finally speak to players as of 9 p.m. tonight. Contracts cannot be officially signed until July 8.
Although Channing Frye is certainly on the agenda (I think it will take something close to the full mid-level to get that done, which should be a priority), of course everything will revolve around Amare, Amare, Amare on Planet Orange.
I feel like before Amare makes a decision we’re going to have to wait for the big dominoes to fall. First it will be LeBron, then Wade and Bosh and then the next tier of All-Stars (which Amare falls into) will pick a home.
The Miami Heat have planned a meeting with STAT Thursday in Los Angeles, according to The Miami Herald. The New York Knicks could only speak to Stoudemire by phone Wednesday night and are trying to convince him to meet them in New York but were not scheduled to meet him in LA as of Wednesday night, according to ESPN New York. However, that sounds like a fluid situation, so it would surprise nobody if the Knicks and Amare end up meeting Thursday in Los Angeles.
The Suns continued to negotiate with Amare on Wednesday, offering him a five-year max deal with injury protections in the fifth year, according to Yahoo!. However, KTAR’s John Gambadoro reported that the Suns won’t offer more than four years (for about $84 million), and Amare won’t settle for anything less than five.
The Suns could offer STAT five years at about $104 million and everybody else could only offer five years at just under $100 mil. Of course, the Suns could also offer a sixth year that they don’t seem inclined to do (as they shouldn’t).
The Arizona Republic‘s Paul Coro tweeted that his sources repeatedly have said Amare wants to stay in Phoenix and would take five years maybe even at less than the max if the Suns offered it.
All that means is it’s hard to believe anything you hear until the ink dries on a contract. I genuinely believe Stoudemire wants to stay in Phoenix all things being equal. As everybody keep saying about Dirk in Dallas, Phoenix is the only home he’s ever known, and he knows this is a good situation. The only question is to what degree Sarver really will show him the money.
Amare has been sending mixed messages about his future for so long and calling his odds of staying being 50-50 for such a length of time that I expect him to contradict himself often in the next few weeks. He’s already done exactly that on Twitter.
One day he tweets: “Pulling to my office in LA, about to meet with the Phoenix Suns. This is going to be a great meeting.” The next day he seems to foreshadow leaving by tweeting: “I opted out of my contract with PHX. Can’t wait to see what lies ahead. I had a blast with my teammates last season. What’s Next !!”
I’m even conflicted on what I think the Suns should do. Although I think five years at the max is too much long term, I’d prefer overpaying to keep together a contender now than risking coming away with nothing this offseason, blowing Nash’s final years and not being relevant until lucking into another superstar.
As much as I’m ready to jump on Schmitz’s David Lee bandwagon, I understand that signing Lee would be a moderate long shot and even then you’re looking at a definite downgrade.
As I will write in the coming days, Amare’s +/- numbers are downright mediocre for a guy asking for a max deal and Suns fans know all the typical reasons he’s probably not worth that money (rebounding, defense, playoffs). But at the end of the day, overpaying Amare on the back end could be better than losing him without acquiring an adequate replacement.
GMs and owners are now busy scampering across the country, and it’s anybody’s guess which big man will land in the Suns’ chair when the summer concludes.
The Summer Suns
The other “big news” of the day involved the Suns announcing their 14-man summer league team. The Summer Suns will be as follows:
Marcus Johnson F Southern California
Scottie Reynolds G Villanova
Zabian Dowdell G Virginia Tech
Ryan Toolson G Utah Valley
Brandon Johnson G San Diego
Lawrence Hill F Stanford
Anton Ponkrashov F CSKA Moscow
Matt Janning G Northeastern
Gani Lawal F Georgia Tech
Taylor Griffin F Oklahoma
Gavin Edwards F Connecticut
Shaun Pruitt F/C Illinois
Earl Clark F Louisville
Dwayne Collins F Miami (FL)