The Phoenix Suns should offer Amar’e Stoudemire a one-year contract and give him the proper sendoff that he deserves.
When Amar’e Stoudemire retired from the NBA in 2016, he retired as a “New York Knick,” a slap in the face to the Phoenix Suns and their fans as he spent the vast majority of his career here, easily had his best seasons, and will go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history.
And now, three years into retirement (although with two years playing for his Isreali-owned team and now with the BIG 3), and still only 36-years-old, Stoudemire is attempting to make a comeback into the NBA.
The Phoenix Suns should give him that opportunity, then following the season, give him the sendoff that he deserves.
Amar’e’s eight-seasons with the Phoenix Suns were some of the best in the franchise’s history. An All-Star five times, he helped guide the team through six playoff runs and three trips to the Western Conference Finals (one of which he could not participate in due to his recovery from micro fracture surgery).
Depending on what position you choose to consider him at, STAT is either the second best power forward in team history behind Charles Barkley, or the best center the team has ever employed.
Unfortunately though, he didn’t play for the franchise over the final six years of his career, so the time past between the end of his tenure with Phoenix and his retirement was obviously long enough for him to place his stunted tenure with New York ahead of his Suns success.
His signing too wouldn’t just be for show.
According to John Gambadoro, the Phoenix Suns are looking into acquiring a third power forward to fit in behind Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky, and now with the signing of Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre, their salary cap is maxed out for this season so they only the ability to sign a player via the veteran’s minimum.
There is no way that Stoudemire is going to find a contract for anything greater than the minimum anyway, nor is he going to be offered a position other than a third PF/C either.
Before you say “signing Amar’e for happy feelings rather than talent is stupid,” this is by no means the first time the franchise has done this (although it has not happened yet under Robert Sarver).
The most recent one-year sendoff was Dan Majerle in 2001-02.
Majerle had originally spent seven years with the Suns, making three All-Star games, three Western Conference Finals appearances and an NBA Finals trip, then in a moment of heart-break (arguably one of the worst trades in franchise history), he was shipped off to Cleveland, then spent five seasons with the Miami Heat.
Phoenix (more specifically, Jerry Colangelo) brought a shell-of-his-former-self Majerle back for one season as the team’s third shooting guard (behind Anfernee Hardaway and Joe Johnson) and third small forward (behind Shawn Marion and Rodney Rogers).
While there had been expectations that the Suns could be a playoff team before the start of the season, it was soon apparent that they weren’t.
Yet the re-acquisition of Majerle at least gave fans a reason to watch down the stretch and develop some their final memories of one of the franchise’s most beloved players.
(For what it’s worth, Majerle averaged career-lows in scoring (4.6), rebounds (2.7), and assists (1.4). But would a franchise expect from a 36-year-old third stringer?)
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The Phoenix Suns are heading into the 2019-20 regular season with zero expectations to make the playoffs, so there should not be a bit push to try and find some potential diamond-in-the-rough G-Leaguer to fill the last roster spot with and pray that he develops into something special that nobody else saw.
(I’ll let James Jones in on a little secret – there is no such diamond-in-the-rough so don’t even worry about it).
His acquisition would also be interesting from the perspective of his eventual placement in the Ring of Honor.
It is certain to happen at some point in the near future (if he does not come out of retirement it is possible that such an event will occur this coming season), but if he is on the Suns, and the season is billed from the outset as his final one, Phoenix could do something very unique and place him in the Ring of Honor while he is still on the roster.
The Dallas Mavericks did something similar with Dirk Nowitzki this past season following Dirk’s final regular season game (which happened to be against the Suns). Following the final horn, Dallas held a 30 minute tribute to Dirk’s career with the Mav’s (although they did not retire his number at that time).
Phoenix could do something similar, and while STAT’s impact on the franchise was not quite as profound as Dirk’s was in Dallas, since Stoudemire is going to eventually end up in the Ring of Honor anyway, as part of a season-long send off, they could utilize the final home game of the regular season (since there likely will not be any home playoff games) to celebrate his career in Phoenix (maybe poke fun at his 2016 comments about retiring a Knick) and at that time place his likeness up in the rafters along with the other greats in franchise history.
Amar’e Stoudemire re-starting then finishing up his career with the Phoenix Suns on a one-year deal would be the perfect send-off for one of the franchise’s greats – and one that the fans deserve following his initial retirement.
Not only would he be affordable and fill a hole on the depth chart, but the story of Amar’e’s career in Phoenix and his over-arching legacy could be told throughout the year, putting a slightly more positive touch on an otherwise likely10th non-playoff season (a playoff drought that began with his final game with the Suns).