Suns Rumors: The poker game begins


Don’t believe anything coming from the Phoenix Suns or Golden State Warriors camp for the next week and a half because they might be telling the truth and they might be lying through their teeth.

The only thing we know is this: Amare Stoudemire will not be traded to the Bay Area until July 8 at the earliest, the first day such a deal involving Warriors base-year compensation player Andris Biedrins can be consummated under salary cap rules.

So long as they have this week and a half, what does either team gain by telling the truth?

They can’t tell their respective fan bases that this is going to happen just in case something beyond their control leads to it disintegrating, and even more importantly both sides may as well try to get the other organization by the balls in hopes of milking them for all they’ve got.

This is what The Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley feared would happen after the Suns got nothing of use basketball-wise for Shaq. Bickley feels the Cavs were in a desperate enough situation that Phoenix should have been able to pry their first-round pick in the deal (DeJuan Blair, anyone?), and by not doing so “shows the leverage the rest of the league has when dealing with the franchise in Phoenix.”

Then Steve Kerr went on ESPN during the draft and talked about the Suns being “a team in transition” enough times for the league to certainly get the picture. The Suns are rebuilding, and feel free to take what you can get.

In this context, why would Golden State say anything other than what Don Nelson did at Stephen Curry’s introductory press conference on Friday?

“He can unpack his bags and relax. He can buy a house. We drafted him because we think he’s a terrific player that fits right into our program. He ain’t going anyplace.”

What, you thought Nelson was going to say he has a deal in place with the Suns and spend an awkward week and a half waiting out a deal that might never happen if Amare decides he doesn’t want to sign an extension in Oakland?

No, he’s going to play his cards right and see if he can make the Suns panic and deal Amare without Curry, which would be a monumental mistake.

The Suns are in a ridiculously tricky spot. They’ve essentially played their hand with it being known that they’re in all-out reloading mode (please don’t use the word “rebuilding”), and that Amare isn’t in their future plans.

Coming off a major injury and with his impending free agency, it would be hard for Amare to come back for one year to a team that’s not a championship contender and which just tried to jettison him to Oakland.

He’s a player who needs to be loved by his organization to produce at optimal levels, and the Suns clearly aren’t going to be showing him any love this offseason.

Whether Amare should be the Suns’ future is a story for another day. In an ideal world, he’s the building block of the post-Nash Suns, but at this point we’ve seen that Kerr and Co. won’t let that happen.

It’s understandable that they don’t want to throw megamillions at a player with such a shaky long-term injury situation who’s an iffy defender/rebounder and can be a prima donna at times. I get that, and while I have hoped that something magical would happen and the Suns would make an Amare marriage work, at this point it looks like they just have to move on.

If this Curry deal falls apart like it appears to be doing, the Suns would be, to put it bluntly, royally screwed.

The Curry-Biedrins-Wright deal was way better than anything I thought the Suns could possibly get for Amare, which is why I originally wanted Phoenix to keep him. You can reload rather nicely with that package, with the right mix of youth and future star power to be exactly what the Suns should be getting for STAT.

If the Warriors balk at moving Curry for real, the Suns could:

A.  Do the deal without him (a horrible idea).

B.  Trade him to the next team that makes a halfway palatable offer (with the draft over, almost for sure a losing proposition).

C.  Trade him at the deadline (also bad because you likely won’t be getting the kind of talent you can rebuild around midseason. Midseason deals involving stars are almost always money dumps.)

D. Hold onto him and let him walk (franchise-crippling because the Suns aren’t winning it all this year, and you CAN’T lose him for nothing).

E. Sign him to a huge money extension (not going to happen).

To summarize, options A-D are varying degrees of bad to catastrophic and option E isn’t happening. It’s your everyday lose-lose-lose proposition.

What the Suns need to do is call Golden State’s bluff, and NOT make a panic trade just because Nelson says he loves Curry.

Stephen didn’t even work out for the Warriors he wanted not to land there so badly, and Dell Curry was none too pleased about his son falling to the team in Oakland. It doesn’t make sense for Golden State to draft another small combo guard when they’ve talked all offseason about how Monta Ellis is their point guard.

You can never underestimate the Eli Manning Factor when former player pops makes sure his kid doesn’t play in a situation he doesn’t like. Curry must be frothing at the mouth to play next to Steve Nash with the Suns. This isn’t over.

Maybe Nelson is playing it straight and the Warriors really do love Curry that much, but it’s far from a certainty.

I do wonder what would have happened if Minnesota would have picked the Davidson star. Would we be talking about Jordan Hill as the next Amare right now?

Or what if the Suns had bit on the deal with Washington for the No. 5 pick and some parts, possibly even Antawn Jamison? I hated the deal at the time, but how crazy would it have been to have Rubio learn from Nash and then take over for him?

That’s the kind of transition championship-level franchises make.

For now, the Suns must wait to see how the dominoes might fall, starting with finding out whether or not Amare might be amenable to a long-term deal with Golden State.

Frankly, it would certainly surprise me if he takes himself out of the 2010 free agency class, if nothing else because he loves to talk about himself and compare himself to the other free agents of that monumental year. Unless he knows something about his medical reports that I don’t, what does he have to gain by signing long term in small-market, typically-crummy Golden State to play for an organization he doesn’t know at all?

Amare certainly doesn’t know exactly what is going on because he got my Laker fan cousin Scott all excited when he tweeted Friday afternoon, “Breaking News! Amar’e Stoudemire to the Lakers!!”

He must have gotten his California teams wrong because later he corrected it with a tweet saying, “Breaking News!! Amar’e Stoudemire to Golden State. What do you think?”

So maybe he’s amenable to an extension, but that’s not the STAT that I know.

As for the Suns, they are in a moderately desperate situation now.

They’ve almost gone too far in these talks to bring Amare back (and in any case he’s gone after the season), and they may never again see a package like the one rumored yesterday with the draft over and done and teams being able to hear the desperation in Kerr’s voice when he calls them.

Steve Kerr has now thrust himself full force into a high stakes game of franchise-saving poker.

In the name of Stephen Curry, let’s just hope Nelson and the Warriors blink first.