Where could Amare go?


I’ve written at length about how I wanted to see what this version of the Suns could do, but at this point I’m resigned to the face that a move will likely be made, and that move very well may include Amare Stoudemire.

At the start of the season that would have been blasphemous, but at this point Amare Stoudemire doesn’t look like the player who will lead the Suns to the promised land. Do you see Amare winning a title as the first banana?

However, the Suns CANNOT make a sixty cents on the dollar deal.

The skeleton of a contender still exists with Steve Nash, Shaq, Jason Richardson and Grant Hill, and to me any move must be made with a focus on remaining a contender this year and getting back a player who can be a key part of their future. To me that means getting back ideally a quality young big who fits well with Shaq, and an heir apparent to Steve Nash wouldn’t be bad as well.

Robert Sarver also wants cap relief in any deal, but let’s just hope cap relief isn’t the main objective of any trade.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Suns are talking to the Bulls, Heat, Pistons and Blazers, with Chicago and Miami hottest on Amare’s trail.

I don’t love Chicago as a trading partner because Tyrus Thomas is the best big they can offer, and that’s not enough to me with the other spare parts they could throw around.

Rasheed Wallace and Rodney Stuckey would be great, but the Pistons would never do it, and Sheed and someone like Amir Johnson isn’t enough. Sheed still makes Detroit interesting because his shooting and defense would be great for the Suns at the four this year, but you can’t deal Amare for essentially a two-month rental and cap relief along with an inferior prospect.

Portland could be interesting if they include LaMarcus Aldridge with one of their plentiful young studs, but I’m not holding my breath on that to happen. A deal I would love that would solve meet many of the Suns’ needs is Amare and LB for Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless and Raef LaFrentz’s Expiring Contract.

The Suns would get a better defensive forward who is young and fits better with Shaq as well as their point guard of the future who could take on LB’s role as a scorer off the bench for now, while LaFrentz’s contract largely covered by insurance provides cap relief.

Plus, it doesn’t hurt for Kerr and Sarver that Bayless is a Phoenix native who went to high school a few miles away from US Airways Center and went to college at U of A.

Portland gets a second star to complement Brandon Roy and an electric bench threat that takes the Blazers from the nice team level to a serious contender level, especially because you know STAT will have a chip on his shoulder to play a great rest of the season. He thinks he will anyway.

“Ever since my rookie year after the All-Star break my game goes up a notch,” Amare said. “When it gets close to the playoffs I’m really focusing in. It’s not going to change this year.”

That seems to be a statement to the team that acquires him, you hear that, Portland?

Unfortunately, the Blazers do not sound like they want to move Aldridge or Bayless, but I guess they’re just hurting themselves.

Of the many possibilities, a Memphis deal with Rudy Gay is interesting, but it’s doubtful Memphis would pull the trigger on that, and he’s definitely not a four. An Oklahoma City deal built around Jeff Green and expiring contracts is also intriguing if OKC throws in a lightly-protected pick, but that’s doubtful.

And now for my favorite rumor involving one of the teams Stein wrote is hot on Amare’s trail, and that is the Miami Heat.

I don’t love throwing in Alando Tucker and Goran Tragic as cap filler, but those two and Amare to South Beach for ……. drum roll please …. Shawn Marion, Michael Beasley and a pick.

Beasley is exactly the kind of guy I want in an Amare deal, an uber-talented young big man who one day just might be better than Stoudemire himself. Beasley has had a bit of a rocky rookie year, but his shooting prowess would make him a perfect fit next to Shaq, and in college at least he was a great rebounder.

With Marion the Suns could do a better job of being a running team when they aren’t throwing the ball into Shaq because that’s what he does, and he’s obviously got a high comfort level playing with Nash and in Phoenix. The Suns also have never replaced his defense.

You would have the same old Marion at power forward issues, but you’d be getting the long-term hope in Beasley, cap relief with Marion’s expiring deal and the possibility to make one more run with a starting lineup of Nash-J-Rich-Hill-Marion-Shaq with Beasley, LB and Barnes off the bench.

A couple other deals I would do:

Amare for Dirk. This would make Nash happy, you’d get a great big complement to Shaq and at least you aren’t losing much in terms of defense and rebounding, if anything.

Both players can opt out for the summer of 2010, so the deal would give the Suns a year and a half window, and then they could rebuild with loads of cap space.

This could be interesting for Dallas because they’d get younger and a player who would work well with Jason Kidd and Josh Howard, but with Dallas playing well this deal seems fairly unlikely.

Another deal I’d like is Amare to Minnesota for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. Love has such a great feel for the game that while he’ll never be an Amare-like star, he’s going to be a very good player in this league for a number of years.

Miller improves the Suns’ bench with another shooter to space the floor and has a deal that expires in time for the Suns to be a player in the summer of 2010.

I’ve long considered Amare Stoudemire to be the future of the Phoenix Suns. Any day now, Sarver and Kerr may be plotting a new future.

Let’s just hope that future includes something more than cap relief.