While the Suns’ recent TNT slump-busting win against the Mavericks has members of Planet Orange smiling again, Phoenix is still 3-7 in its last 10 games and Amare Stoudemire trade rumors continue to swirl.
Amare has allowed these trade rumors to affect his play as of late, and he is quickly solidifying the notion that he is not a max-contract player in this league and has some serious consistency issues in the rebounding and defense department.
The question of whether or not the Suns should deal Stoudemire is still up in the air, but with every game it becomes more and more apparent that he is on the way out.
While he’s still managed to average 17.6 points during the last five games, he has only corralled 4.2 rebounds per contest during that stretch. He has looked pedestrian in the fourth quarter of games. Is it a coincidence that in the Dallas win STAT sat the entire fourth quarter?
Although I find it hard to believe that the Suns are shopping STAT as so many sources say they are, there is no doubting that if the right deal comes along, Phoenix should pull the trigger.
But what is the right deal?
So many teams have been thrown into the Amare sweepstakes: New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, Minnesota and even San Antonio (Suns fans may never get used to seeing Stoudemire in black and silver).
While GM’s must be salivating over the idea of STAT potentially saving their franchise, only a few of these teams can realistically have a chance at Amare. Not only because of the pieces necessary to get him, but also because of whether or not he would be willing to re-sign before he can opt out after this season.
With a little help from the ESPN Trade Machine, here are three realistic Amare trade scenarios. Keep in mind, with the Suns desperate to get something for Amare rather than letting him walk after this season, they will certainly not be getting full value for STAT.
Trade partner No. 1: New Jersey Nets
Phoenix Suns receive: Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian, Bobby Simmons’ expiring contract and a 2010 first-round pick (from Mavericks).
New Jersey Nets receive: Amare Stoudemire
The Nets have everything that Phoenix should be eying in an Amare deal: youth, salary cap relief and draft picks.
The most enticing piece in the deal would have to be the rookie swingman Terrence Williams. Williams brings defense, rebounding and playmaking to the Suns. He would reunite with former Cardinals teammate Earl Clark and would undoubtedly thrive in the Suns’ up-tempo system.
T-Will would be a good successor to J-Rich at the shooting guard spot and would make a nice future backcourt duo with Goran Dragic.
The second-best part of the deal would have to be Bobby Simmons’ $11.2 million expiring contract. That cap space, along with not having to worry about showing STAT the money, would make the Suns players in the 2010 free agent market.
Yi is also a nice piece for the Suns. Any seven-footer who can shoot the ball is an asset on any team, especially the Suns.
Since being so highly coveted coming into the 2007 NBA Draft, Yi hasn’t exactly blossomed into the player most had hoped. But he is still only 22 years old, and is averaging 14.3 points and 6.6 boards per game this season. He has a high enough ceiling to take a gamble on at $3.2 million per year.
I highly doubt the Nets would give up the opportunity to land John Wall, so the draft pick would be somewhere in the mid-to-late 20’s. It is kind of just a throw in to the deal, but if the Suns are serious about getting some young talent, any draft pick is a good draft pick.
A young core of Dragic-Williams-Dudley-Yi-Lopez is nothing to laugh at. With the free agents Phoenix would be able to sign, that is a young, defensive-minded, competitive group — something the Suns haven’t had in years.
The biggest thing that makes this trade work is the fact that Stoudemire has expressed interest in New Jersey, and with the potential move to Brooklyn and the potential addition of another big name free agent in 2010, the Nets are certainly a viable option.
Trade scenario No. 2: Chicago Bulls
Phoenix Suns receive: Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas, Taj Gibson and Jerome James’ expiring contract
Chicago Bulls receive: Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa
A Stoudemire-to-Chicago trade has been rumored since the summer time. Chicago is a big enough market for STAT, and the Bulls have the money to re-sign Amare. They have been hurting for a big man for seemingly decades now, and Amare is clearly their guy.
There are a ton of different options with the Bulls, as they can offer some talent along with expiring contracts. In this deal the Suns would add a defensive-minded point/shooting guard in Hinrich, an athletic big man with upside in Thomas, $6.6 million in cap space in James and a rookie big man in Gibson.
Hinrich would be a nice fit in Phoenix, as he could play next to Nash and Dragic. You could make the argument against trading for Hinrich as Dragic is emerging as the point guard of the future and Kirk’s contract isn’t great — $9 million next year and $8 mil in 2011-12.
But he would make up a nice defensive backcourt of the future with Dragic. Both have showed they can excel at the off-gaurd position and play the point, making that backcourt marriage work. The loss of Barbosa wouldn’t sit well with Suns fans, but Hinrich could fill that void — minus the blazing speed — quite easily.
Thomas and Gibson give the Suns some youth and upside down low. Although Thomas’ lack of refined offensive skills and questionable work ethic might deter the Suns, he is clearly a talent. And if he doesn’t work out in Phoenix, the Suns don’t have to re-sign him as his $4.7 million contract ends after this season (he does have a 6.3 mil qualifying offer, though, if the Suns would want to keep him).
Gibson, on the other hand, has been very solid in his rookie season — 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game — and has the intangibles to be a long-tenured pro. James’ $6.6 million dollar expiring contract also doesn’t hurt with the Suns taking on three new players.
STAT is clearly the best player in the deal, but the Suns certainly won’t get full value at this point, and Hinrich, Thomas, Gibson and James’ expiring is as close as it may get.
Sleeper trade scenario: Philadelphia 76ers
Phoenix Suns receive: Andre Iguodala and Marreese Speights
Philadephia 76ers receive: Amare Stoudemire
The big ‘if’ surrounding this trade is whether or not STAT would re-sign in Philadelphia. That is certainly up in the air, but both sides have the pieces to make this work.
The Sixers are reportedly shopping Iguodala, and the former Arizona Wildcat is the closest thing to a superstar that the Suns could garner in an Amare deal. It is rumored that Cleveland is making a play for Iguodala, but if the Suns were willing to deal STAT, the Cavs would become an afterthought.
Iguodala is on a fairly lengthy contract — he’s owed over $56 million the next four years — but his athleticism and playmaking ability would give the Suns another perimeter threat outside of Steve Nash.
Phoenix would also get ahold of a young, athletic big man in Speights. The former Florida Gator is averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in only his second season in the league and has shown, with four 20-plus-point games this season, that he belongs.
But again, it is fairly unlikely that STAT would re-up with Philadelphia.