Amare Stoudemire deal went awry, but nobody to blame


It feels kind of weird to think that Amare Stoudemire will not be returning to the Phoenix Suns.

Since the first months of this site’s history and seemingly continuing throughout my run at the helm of this Phoenix Suns blog, Amare Stoudemire rumors have been front and center of every discussion. Hell, I even bought the domain (speaking of which, if any Knicks or Heat bloggers are interested in the near future…….).

Amare has been a subject of intense debate during the past two trade deadlines and last offseason.

Going back further, when KG wanted out of Minnesota there was talk of taking a chance on The Big Ticket and sending STAT back as compensation, a deal I thought at the time would kill the Suns’ future because of how bright Stoudemire’s was. Funny how last trade deadline the Suns then couldn’t even unload him for slops.

I will save my “Stoudemire as a Sun” eulogy for the day he officially signs, but for now let’s take a look at how the Suns handled these negotiations.

According to The Arizona Republic, Stoudemire twice turned down a five-year, $96.6 million over before the Suns moved on to Hakim Warrick. The final offer involved three guaranteed years with the fourth and fifth years partially guaranteed that could become fully guaranteed if Sun Tzu met certain minutes requirements (AKA didn’t miss a huge chunk of a season with an injury).

“It wasn’t the right deal,” agent Happy Walters told The Republic. “There were too many caveats for us to be comfortable with it.”

In the end, it’s regrettable that Hakim Warrick will be starting at power forward instead of Amare, but you really can’t blame either side.

Sarver, for all his cheapness, made a fair offer. The Suns clearly had reservations about Amare’s knees/eye and his fitness to be a max-level player four or five years down the road. Their offer made sense from the standpoint of it being a max deal for three with some ways for the team to get out of it if Amare isn’t worth nearly that much at the end of the deal.

This isn’t a five-year, $30 million deal that won’t hurt the Suns thaaaat much even if Frye isn’t quite worth that throughout the length of his contract. By giving Amare that big of a deal the Suns would be hitching their wagon to Stoudemire with only moderate flexibility to add other major pieces. If the Suns didn’t feel like he was that guy who could be the best player on a championship team and if they had that many reservations about his health at the end of the deal, they made a smart offer that would insure them to some extent against the blown future scenario.

At the same time, Amare’s camp has made it clear that he wasn’t going to take anything less than five years at the max (unless, of course, nobody offers that). The Suns went as far as common sense would dictate them going, and now they’ll let somebody else overpay for Stoudemire.

With the kind of money teams have to spend and the amount of squads desperate to make a big splash, Amare knew he was going to get his money somewhere, so you really can’t blame him for declining the Suns’ overtures.

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, Stoudemire spent the last two years getting jerked around by the organization, dangled like a piece of meat at every turn only to see the Suns fail to pull the trigger.

For a guy who’s as much of an ego player as Stoudemire, a guy who wants to be known as a franchise player, you know this had to have hurt. Amare needs to feel loved, and pondering trading him for J.J. Hickson is not exactly showing him the love.

To Amare’s credit, he was a true professional throughout this past season. He never once pouted and even intensified his effort around the trade deadline, leading to his monster second half. If Amare held any animosity toward the Suns’ organization, he certainly didn’t show it on the floor, and that’s all you can ask out of a potentially disgruntled player.

He’s earned the right to test the market and get the best possible deal, and he can get a better deal than what the Suns offered. There shouldn’t be any hard feelings toward Amare coming from the 602.

The only regrettable circumstance is that the Suns didn’t wait. Their only real chance at this juncture was if Amare didn’t get the kind of offer he expected (which was always doubtful with so many teams hording cap space), but with the Knicks reportedly offering about five years and $100 million perhaps the Suns knew their best offer had already been beaten.

Still, I’m sure Hakim Warrick could have waited the weekend if need be.

At this point the Suns could only hope to receive some assets or at least a trade exception back in a sign and trade. As TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott wrote:

"By any rational analysis, that’s 100% the best thing for [a] team’s long-term basketball future. Even if it’s just for the NBA’s ultimate consolation prize — a second-round draft pick that is protected from slots 31-55 — that trade benefits your team immensely, because at the very least it gives you a valuable trade exception."

Paul Coro tweeted that the Suns will wait until July 8 to officially renounce Stoudemire’s rights (which they will need to do to make their signings on that date), but that the Suns think “there’s no way to do a beneficial sign-and-trade.” Even if the Suns don’t get anything of value back player-wise, I would think the possibility of landing a trade exception would make this maneuver worth it. After all, such a trade exception (from Rashard Lewis) is how the then-Sonics were able to fleece the Suns in the Kurt Thomas trade.

Sure, it’s regrettable that the Suns just swapped Amare Stoudemire for Hakim Warrick, as solid of a signing as I think that is. But looking big picture, you’ve got to applaud the Suns for being fiscally responsible during a week in which few teams are showing any such restraint.

Whereas other organizations are agreeing to deals they might regret by the time they can officially sign them, you can’t blame the Suns for offering Amare less than the max.