Amare’s still here, so what’s next?


So that’s it.

No alarm bells sounded, no siren rang out, just a whole lot of talk about nothing.

Amare Stoudemire will play out the season in purple and orange, and then we can play this game again in July.

So what does this mean?

In the short term, it means the Suns are a likely playoff team, so long as they stay healthy. We all remember STAT being the subject of intense trade rumors at this time last season only to not be dealt; then he got hurt in the second game after the break and missed the rest of the season.

So long as history doesn’t repeat it self, the Suns should feel good about playing past mid-April with John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds giving them a better than 90 percent chance of reaching postseason play. The Suns are three games up on No. 9 Houston with the tiebreaker, which is far from insurmountable but at the same time a healthy lead.

We all know the Suns are better in the short term since any potential deal would have focused on the future. The Suns keep their All-Star center and maintain the chemistry they’ve built thus far.

But what about next year?

That’s where things get tricky. Many haters (with all due respect) have lamented the Suns’ lack of a deal because now they risk losing Amare for nothing. That’s the very reason Steve Kerr spent so much time shopping STAT, and it’s a legitimate concern.

But at the end of the day, that offer never came through, just as I’ve always suspected would be the case for a four-month (if you’re lucky) rental. It just didn’t make sense for a team to give up major assets for Amare with so many unknowns, and it didn’t make sense for the Suns to just give him away to be assured of at least getting something in return for the STAT man.

Kerr told reporters that the Cleveland deal never did it for him (thankfully), and nobody else proposed an offer that the Suns couldn’t refuse.

For all that, I’ve got to give the Suns a lot of credit for not panicking. They could have just taken the best deal available and gone from there, but with nothing good on the table they decided to roll the dice and see what happens this summer. The conclusion may yet be bad for Phoenix, but why ensure it’s bad right now when there could still be a happy ending?

So what would a happy ending entail?

The happiest ending would be a contract extension. The Suns have offered two more years at $14 mil per plus the option year. Add a year and make it for $15 million a season, and I think you’ve got a fair contract offer, although I doubt Amare would sign something like that before seeing what his market value is.

Here’s David Aldridge’s take on the matter:

"Stoudemire’s standard for an extension is what Pau Gasol got, which is $57 million over three years. He actually wants $60 but that’s his benchmark and I think a much more realistic one is the one Antawn Jamison got from Washington, which was about $50 million for four years if I remember. I think that is much more in line with what people are going to be wanting to pay Stoudemire. Somewhere in that $11-12 million a year range as opposed to $17-18, certainly not $20 million, that’s not going to happen."

With the option year included, my proposal would be four years for about $63 million, which sounds pretty fair to me.

How will Amare handle himself the rest of the season?

I really think he’s going to handle himself like a man, as he has of late. Stoudemire has averaged 26.6 and 11.7 over his past seven games after a rough stretch of 16.3 and 4.0 the previous four. Instead of wilting, he has become stronger.

This speaks a lot to his budding maturity. The Stoudemire of old probably languishes through these past few games and puts up mediocre numbers; instead Amare has gone out and played like a man deserving of an All-Star starting spot and the contract he feels he should command.

On his blog, Amare wrote, “I am still a member of the Suns – I am with a great team and coaches…  It was nice to have other teams and players want me to join their teams, but I am happy to stay in Phoenix.”

But does he really mean that?

I really think he does. From being in the locker room after home games, I can tell you that Amare genuinely cares for his teammates and the feeling is mutual. If nothing else, he’s playing for that next contract, so I expect him to be in beast mode from here on out.

Will the Suns regret not making a deal?

They might, but at least they aren’t going to hand OKC a lottery pick, and at least they have a chance at re-signing him/having him opt in for one more year/getting a similar asset to what’s available now in a sign-and-trade.

This clearly is an issue that divides Suns fans: an statistically equal amount of Suns fans favored an Amare trade and opposed one during the ValleyoftheSuns poll I have run during trade season.

Should the Suns have handled this better?

No question. My biggest regret is that the Suns allowed the Amare talk to spiral out of control (I know, I’m one to talk). It’s not good for anybody for STAT to hear his name out there so much, but I suppose that also has something to do with today’s 24/7 news cycle and the rise of Twitter.

Does that mean it’s time to talk about ball?

No question about that one either. This site will become again in June, but for now it’s time to talk hoops!

Did Michael Schwartz get so worked up over all the Amare rumors that he ran off to Vegas and left Schmitz and Lockman in charge over the weekend?

Yes and no. I am going to Vegas, but I swear it’s for a buddy’s birthday and has been planned for weeks before I realized it was also the weekend after the deadline. I promise to be back Monday, unless my buddies leave me on the top of the hotel Hangover-style or something.