What to do with the $16.5 million trade exception from the Amare Stoudemire sign-and-trade?

It certainly isn’t David Lee, but at least it’s better than nothing. As expected, the Phoenix Suns will receive a $16.5 million trade exception and a second-round draft pick in a sign-and-trade sending Amare Stoudemire to the New York Knicks, according to an ESPN report.

Soon after Amare verbally committed to joining the Knicks on a five-year, $100 million deal it was looking like the Suns were facing their worst nightmare — losing the five-time All-Star forward for nothing.

But Stoudemire, who was introduced to The Big Apple as a member of the Knicks Thursday morning, soon made it clear that he was aiming to help Phoenix in any way after eight seasons with the Suns.

In fact, Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh said in the ESPN report that New York did the sign-and-trade as a “courtesy to Amare, who didn’t want to leave Phoenix with nothing.”

STAT also took an $800,000 pay cut his first season by opting for the sign-and-trade, which will give the Suns that same amount in added cap space this offseason.

Although it isn’t a big-time free agent like Suns fans had hoped, this $16.5 million exception to the salary cap gives the Suns a ton of wiggle room this offseason. They will use an estimated $4 million on forward Hakim Warrick in a sign-and-trade with Chicago, leaving them with a $12.5 million exception to use at their discretion over the next 365 days, as it expires after one year.

So what will the Suns and owner Robert Sarver do with the $12.5 million exception? It’s hard to say at this point because the Suns are somewhat stuck between win-now and rebuilding mode, but here are a few options:

1. Sign-and-trade for a solid free agent

Because the trade exception is only good for a year, there really is no use in not putting it to use now. There’s more talent available now than there will be in the next couple of years, so the Suns might as well pounce.

The Suns were unable to lure David Lee, who just agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Warriors, so that leaves the Suns with a few other names that fit that financial description.

The Suns could go after a guy like Luis Scola, who would most likely cost right around the trade exception’s value. This would be a great pickup for the Suns, and if you look at it, Amare Stoudemire for Luis Scola really isn’t all that bad of a deal.

He isn’t a huge name, but he has the skills to be an All-Star and would fit nicely next to Robin Lopez down low. Another name that could be worth the exception is Richard Jefferson, who opted out of his final year with the Spurs that would have paid him $15.2 million.

It remains to be seen how realistic these scenarios could be, but Scola and Jefferson are the caliber players the Suns could land using the trade exception in a sign-and-trade.

2. Sign-and-trade for a few mid-level free agents

The Suns could use the exception in separate deals to garner a few decent players that would help fill the roster and make them somewhat-competitive now.

A guy like Kyle Korver comes to mind, who would fit great with the Suns and wouldn’t use up the whole exception. They could then turn to a Udonis Haslem or Al Harrington to add some depth and experience up front.

But it’s looking like the Suns are most likely trying to save money for next offseason, or snag a big-time guy now, so using the exception on a few decent guys that would take up cap space after next season probably won’t happen.

3. Use it in a trade for Al Jefferson

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been trying to move Al Jefferson and the $42 million he’s owed over the next three seasons. As he’s making $13 million next season, the Suns could trade only the trade exception for the big man and ride out the next three years of his contract.

Although he does have a hefty price tag, Jefferson has proven he can play at an All-Star level, and considering Steve Nash has two more years to go, the Suns could continue to win now, but wouldn’t be financially tied down when Nash hangs it up.

I’m not all that sure how viable of an option this is, but the T-Wolves want to move him and the Suns have the ability to deal practically nothing for him. And when J-Rich comes off of the books for $14.4 million after next season, the Suns won’t be agonizing over the $14 million they will owe Jefferson.

4. Use it to shed Leandro Barbosa’s contract

I have a feeling that the Suns are going to try to move Leandro Barbosa and the $14.7 million he’s owed over the next few seasons with this exception. Because LB makes $7.1 million next season, the Suns could theoretically package him with the $12.5 million exception to land an All-Star caliber player that the Suns could potentially build around.

But it’s looking like the Suns want cap room for next offseason, so they could possibly use LB and part of the exception to deal for an expiring contract. This would rid them of LB’s ugly contract, opening up an added $7.6 million that wouldn’t have been available otherwise. I feel that this may be the most realistic scenario.

5. Stand pat until the trade deadline or early next offseason

The Suns could very well hold onto the exception and use it during the season if they want a player who is on the block or they can swing a deal with a team that needs to cut costs. There are always those teams that fall out of the playoff race early, and the Suns could be the beneficiary of a big-time player on a team that’s simply going in a different direction.

Since it has a one-year life, the Suns could actually wait until the very beginning of next offseason and try to swing a sign-and-trade deal with the exception. This is a bit risky however, as the Suns would be on the clock.

It’s hard to say what the Suns will do with this trade exception, aside from using some of it on Warrick, but they have no shortage of options. So while Amare Stoudemire didn’t exactly return an All-Star caliber player to Phoenix, the huge trade exception the Suns received could eventually turn into that.

  • http://www.mn-sz.com Nam Huynh

    Kahn turned down many offers for Jefferson already. He wont trade Jefferson for "practically nothing." Yes, Jefferson is on the block but it will take some kind of asset.

  • DAG

    Seriously, Scola? Breaking news for you Mike, if Scola is your starting PF your teams sucks.

    So far this offseason, Suns get a grade of D.

  • DAG

    Jefferson, Al is intriguing. Question marks yes, but solid potential when paired with Side-Show Bob, I mean R Lopez.

    Jefferson, Richard is a joke. Although I like him and really respect him as a person, he is not a very good player any more.

  • Mike Meez

    I have to take back my skepticism of Amare's intentions regarding the sign and trade. It looks like he really did just want to help the Suns. That's very big of him; it makes me feel a lot better than Cleveland fans must be feeling right now. This gives us some good options. Although I've thrown out the idea of trading Nash in previous posts, I don't think that makes as much sense since we have to use this trade exception within the year. Might as well make one more go of it.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Zach

    Why not trade the exception for Lamar Odom it would only be 7 mil since thats his contract for this year and he wouild do wonders in our system. Then trade the other six mil to Charlotte for Tyrus Thomas and add in the 2nd round pick the Knicks gave us. Thoughts?

  • Steve

    I'm up in Minnesota and saw Al play a few times this year…he's clearly overweight and uninterested. Maybe he's just getting back into shape after knee surgery or hates being on a terrible team, but he went through whole games without sprinting last season. That makes me nervous. Then again, better than nothing. Here's hoping Sarver doesn't just sit by to save money.

  • juan

    GET DIRK !

  • Dave

    I think if Sarver should go after a cheap PF like Anthony Tolliver and give him the chance to redeem himself from the STAT facial. Sarver should also consider going after Shannon Brown or Ronnie Brewer for reserve SG after trading LB.

  • martinez

    so if the suns let richardson walk next season and trade LB how much money would that give us now? in total and it would be nice to have al jefferson he is a proven 20 10 guy and is tough imagine him and lopez together? man thats a bunch of man beasts right there lol well if any one can tell me the numbers of what i stated earler let me know thanks


  • Jasper Buckleman

    Jefferson can’t run and he’s not that consistent. He can put up 35 points, 15 rebounds one night and then 15-8 the next. Sound familiar?

    What is the point of saving cap space for next year? Who do they think they’re going to get? Boris Diaw? Carmelo isn’t going to come here and he’s the only big name.

  • DAG

    Also, if Warrick is your starting PF your team is also not good. I can’t believe some “experts” were dumb enough to say Warrick could get you 15 and 6 as if it was a good thing. Really? Wow. That’s gonna put us over the top.

    I do think $4 mil per is good value, but 4 years is plain stupid.

  • Mike Meez

    I have to take back my skepticism of Amare’s intentions regarding the sign and trade. It looks like he really did just want to help the Suns. That’s very big of him; it makes me feel a lot better than Cleveland fans must be feeling right now.

    This gives us some good options. Although I’ve thrown out the idea of trading Nash in previous posts, I don’t think that makes as much sense since we have to use this trade exception within the year. Might as well make one more go of it.

  • DAG

    Trading Nash, as a Suns fan, would be terrible, but the man has given way too much to this franchise to make him play out his career on an 7/8 seed.

    But, if Sarver gets serious about competing and uses the exemption to bring in a piece that even creates the possibility of the team being a competitor (Dirk unlikely or Al Jefferson possible), then of course do not trade Stevey Nash.

  • brown

    I hope the Suns can get Al Jefferson this would be the best move they could make.

  • CNL

    I have to agree. Amare did a hell of a nice thing for the Suns and Suns fans. I’ll admit, when i found out that he wouldn’t sign the Suns $96.7 million deal but went with New York $99.1 million deal I was bitter and immediately was routing for him to fail. I’m sure the Cleveland fans can relate. But, this was huge of him. Very respectful Amar’e, I’ll be routing for you… just not as much as my Suns.

    As for our options, is Luol Deng available? I’ve heard we have a chance at picking him up. And here’s a thought too. I know a lot of people are down on him, but I like Beasley. I bet Pat Riley would consider sending him here for some of that cap room.


  • Kelvin Session

    Ok this is what I would do if I was the GM or Sarver. 1st I would trade Barbosa for Tony Allen in a sign and trade for 4yr 14mill.(Kobe stopper) I would then trade part of my exception for Josh Smith because he makes half of what Joe Johnson makes. He’s pissed about that and they have to pay Williams and Hortford in another year. I would also try to sign Morrow from the Warriors 4/14mill. That’s what I would do. What do you think about that Mike?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Zach

    Al Jefferson would be nice but the Suns wont do it because of his contract its just too big

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Zach

    I would rather have Odom and start out with Nash, Richardson, Hill, Odom, and Lopez

  • DAG

    Odom is a terrible idea. Yes, he can have great nights, but he is a bit of a headcase who cannot compete on a championship level without an Alpha (Kobe) pushing him. Suns do not have the Alpha.

    Completely agree with letting Amare go. Amare has the skill to be a part of champion, but the Suns as constructed with Amare were very good but not champions.

  • jmar

    i’d love the al sign and trade, but what i’m thinking of is that hill’s a year older, and lbgone this year, and jrich next year kind of hinders the backcourt.. Unless somehow we’re trying to swing another good sg and sf even after adding someone like scola or jefferson, how does jrich being off the books work??

  • Mike L

    DAG, I have to disagree with you on Scola. Every time I see that guy play I hate what he does to us. He was one of the guys who constantly exposed Amare’s defensive inadequacies. He’s TOTALLY the kind of guy who could help us BUT … we clearly need a guy who is the person Steve works the ball through and I just can’t think of anyone who fits that, unless Scola or someone else, is prepared to rise to the challenge.

    On a separate thought, Amare was big to get us this trade exception. In hindsight, I think you have to see that whichever of the teams got Amare was clearly NOT going to get LBJ. The “Miami Thrice” clearly were set that they were going to play together. If you read Bill Simmons column on ESPN today he talks about how he was told at the 08 Olympics that LBJ, Wade, Bosh and CP3 vowed VOWED to play together. Did you see the news that CP3 dropped his agent today and signed on with LBJ’s marketing firm as his agent. CP3 will get a trade done to Miami sometime in the next year or two … COUNT ON IT.

  • Kelvin Session

    @ Zach- Odom is good but Josh is better all around. He’s made the all defensive team 1st or 2nd team 3 years in a row. He’s simular to Amare but a better defender without the post game. He would never disapear on the boards or his defense. My starting 5 would be Nash, Rich, Lopez, Smith, Dudley. Dudley is better than Hill at this point on both sides of the ball. Let him shine. He can put it on the floor and shoot the 3. His defense is much better than Hills. @ Steve- Bring Al in for a physical and see if he’s comitted to stay trim. Tyrus Thomas- No. Dang- No.

  • Pedro

    Lets get Al Jefferson!!!

  • Jasper Buckleman

    No, Al Jefferson would be terrible on this team.

  • JC

    Suns should get Earl Boykins to play Center and Suns will be Champions.

  • brown

    AL Jefferson is perfect, he is coming off injury and the guy still averaged 17 and 9. When he was healthy a year ago he was 23 and 11 and he is only 25yrs old. I just hope Dallas doesn’t pull the trigger before the Suns.

  • EdwinKing

    No Jefferson, Please!
    He is not suit for our mode. Instead, we should land Scola or Odom or Thomas, they can bring defense and rebond that we need.
    Please bring us some asset from the cap money!!

    By Hong Kong Suns Fans

  • Phil

    Scola is an interesting option – 16 and 9 last year, and has improved significantly each year in the NBA – playing with Nash I think he could improve again and be a 20/10 guy. Only downside is he is already 30.

    Didn’t see much of Al Jefferson last year, but at his best he is worth a 3 year $42m contract. This is where you need a GM to earn his money and decide with player you are getting.

    Totally agree with those on here who said no way to Richard Jefferson though

  • Matt

    Scola is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. His offensive movements are amazing. He outplayed top NBA PF's in the World Tournament in Indianapolis and in the Olympics in Greece. He is a solid rebounder. He doesn't block shots but he is a good overall defender. He plays hard and with heart. He never gets hurt. Last season, he had games with 44 points and others with 30 points and 20 rebounds. He was the reason Houston had chances to make the playoffs. In addition, he is not selfish and plays in team basketball. The bigger risk is he is 30 years old. It would be a great complement for Nash. In Phoenix, Scola can average 20/10. He is the perfect fit.

  • Drew

    Really what they should do is



    Denver knows that they don't have the potential to lure Melo back after his contract is up this next season.

    Just like we were trying to dump STAT this past Trade Deadline, the Nuggets are now in a position where they need to be trying to get "something" in return for Melo.

    We have not only J-Rich's expiring 14.4m contract (which would work financially if we throw in Lou and/or Clark… while keeping our 12.5 exemption for maybe Al Jefferson)

    but also, if they would prefer, instead of J-Rich, we could use Barbosa (7million) plus the remaining 12.5 million and draft picks to lure the Nuggets into giving us MELO while keeping J-Rich for this year and his expired 14.5 million contract for next year

    Somebody Run this by Sarver and see if he doesn't try


  • Fanta

    At the very least Big Al grabs boards consistently. His downside in that department is a 8 board game as you mentioned, which is still several times better than the 2 or 3 STAT could put up on bad nights. On the other hand, getting him would result in something like getting Shaq. I like the rebounding, but until he shows that he can run the floor and be the second guy on the team I think they are better off starting warrick and getting two good defenders that can shoot.

  • suns68

    The league reshuffled and the Suns came away with a weaker hand. Let’s just quit screwing around and try not to make things any worse than they already are.
    Adding another journeyman (or several) at this point isn’t going to help us. And there are no stars available.
    Our best hope is to go back to 7 seconds or less (we’ve still got our shooters and mostly fresh legs). Hang on to the exemption in case somebody good comes up during the season.

  • suns68

    And by the way, win now or rebuild is a classic false choice.
    Why pay (lots) of money to watch a team that’s already conceding defeat?
    ‘Rebuilding’ is just a euphemism to excuse bad (or cheap) decisions that put a weak team on the floor.
    That’s why I’m angry at giving up what Amare could have done for us now, on the chance he might not be as good four years from now.

  • Sean

    Josh Smith intrigues me. I don’t know if it’s possible, but he plays D and could thrive with Nash.

  • TRX

    No, that’s not rebuilding. “[B]ad (or cheap) decisions that put a weak team on the floor” is either re-tooling or shitty GM’ing. Rebuilding is a legitimate process that takes time and some luck. Portland rebuilt. OKC rebuilt. Where are they now?

  • George Z.

    I believe Josh Smith from Atlanta really is the best replacement that we can get for Amar’e, this is the first site where I read people posting comments on how we should try and land Josh Smith here. He may not have the same offensive pressence that Amare does, (but we have enough of that) and he really does bring a defensive presence. He does seem to be a little bit unstable mentaly/ not very disciplined as his amount of jumpshots showed. He did get better last season though.

  • Drew

    JOSH SMITH IS NOT ON THE BLOCK… no way will Atlanta even think about trading him… the just resigned JJ and are working to land Shaq and a few other cheap vets in order to WIN NOW… i mean no i don’t really think that they are anywhere close to winning but theyre already focusing on this plan to “WIN NOW”

  • Ace Phoenix

    Jefferson or Sciola

    That is a 10 a can live with. It is our reality folks, Amar’e is gone and we need to replace him. Our new pick & roll target isn’t a player we are going to sign it is Lopez. He is our new big man post presence. The other forward needs to gobble up boards, fouls, and run the floor.
    If we can get something NOW, to add to the interior of the team with the trade exception we should do it. Otherwise it will end up like our last 3 trade exceptions, worthless.
    Make a move and make a run.

  • Scott

    Right now Deng is the best option for us, Al Jefferson wont fit in the Suns system and Melo just isn’t going to happen, he’s about to sign a 65mil 3 year extention. Getting Deng would be nice but yet it still proves the point of how Cheap Sarver has been since he aquired the team that we don’t already have Deng. The Suns Drafted Deng then sold him minutes later, they didn’t even trade him for some talent, they sold him. That just proves how cheap he is, and if that doesn’t change the peoples mind who have been defending him then the fact that they drafted Rondo and Sold him for cash minutes later also should.

  • Drew

    Making Up For Stoudemire….

    ok so please let me know where im wrong but stat essentially averaged what 22 and 9 consistantly in big games… to me with the line up that we currently have can’t we pretty much make up for these stats fairly easily??

    Steve Nash is worth 18p a night
    J Rich can get 23 and 5
    Robin lopez could easily be at 16 and 9…if not more?
    Channing can average 10 and 6
    Grant hill can average 10 and 8
    Dudley can average 10 and 5
    Barbosa can average 9 ppg
    Warrick can average 6 and 6
    Earl Clark can average 5 and 4
    Lou Amundson can get 5 and 3

    As a team isn’t that 112 ppg and 46 rpg… more points and rebounds than last years averages

  • http://espn.com victor

    the suns needa get a dominant big man to even have a chance to keep winning

    go suns !!

  • Drew

    Some people might say that the in order for the suns to achieve these averages than they would need more minutes than a 48 minute game to do so but with the 35 mpg STAT usually played, i think would be more than enough for various bench players to have on the court… not to mention all the additional statistics NASH, JRICH, HILL, LOPEZ, FRYE, will get because STAT isn’t there to run 50% of the plays through (equates to more touches for these other players that will be on the court with out STAT being there)

    Although STAT shot a good percentage from the field… next year we will make up for this by trading 2pt field goals with 3pt field goals and taking less half court sets (pick and roll at the top of the key, which takes more time, lowering the shots we can even attempt per game) and trying to get our fastbreak points back to all time levels….

    we are a better team playing run-n-gun, small ball.. the difference from years past is our defense doesnt require us to “live and die by the 3″.. well, at least not as much

  • Buffalo

    I think the Suns should try to acquire Udonis Haslem. He rebounds, he defends and leaves everything on the court. I really do not want Carmelo Anthony playing for the Suns. He's an ass!

  • jack

    Lets get Al Jefferson can you imagine Robin Lopez and Big Al in the front court. We could finally compete against the Laker front court.

  • Chris

    What happened to the Suns desire to get better at defense…

    Replace Barbs with Ronnie Brewer.