Since the Suns dropped the bombshell that they might be open to dealing Amare Stoudemire before the trade deadline next week, there’s been rampant speculation concerning what kind of deal teams would have to put together to satisfy Steve Kerr and get their hands on one of three most devastating combinations of speed and power currently playing in the NBA (Lebron and Dwight Howard being the other two).
Friday, ESPN put up a column by Chad Ford discussing what Kerr might be looking for and which teams might have the assets to get a deal done. According to Ford, in any trade for Stoudemire, the Suns will be looking for luxury tax relief going forward (For one of the 10 best talents in the NBA?!? Sheesh!), a young player or two that *could* potentially blossom into a star, and perhaps draft considerations. Yup, that’s all. (Really. Just. Incredible.) Thumbing through Ford’s theoretical offers, it becomes clear that there’s not really a winner in the bunch. Each trade is a significant downgrade from Amare and, ultimately, could even get Kerr fired. But this is the best the Suns can expect under the circumstances.
Why is the price tag so low? Well, because Amare is a big pain in the butt, that’s why. It’s something of a risk to trade for him because he’s a high-maintenance superstar that needs to be coddled and given special treatment by the team. In short, his team often needs to look the other way on his BS and say, “Ok, that’s absolutely ridiculous but he did put up 35 points and 17 rebounds last night.”
Now as I’m sure most everyone is already aware, the Knicks did make Ford’s list of teams that have the assets to satisfy the Suns in a trade. Chad’s formulation was Amare and Leandro Barbosa for Lee, Marbury and Nate. In my estimation, of the various proposals he generated, the Knicks’ offer was second best (to Miami’s which was Shawn Marion and Beasley). However, I don’t think the Suns would do the trade (even if the two teams were willing to deal with each other at all – more on that in a minute) because both Nate’s and Lee’s are expiring deals. That means that after trading for them, the Suns would have to re-sign both guys this summer to reap value from the trade and that would use up most or all of the tax savings they gained from the deal in the first place.
As Chris Alvino over at the Knicks Blog noted, if the Knicks wanted to trade for Amare, one way or another they’d have to be willing to include a more fixed asset. By that I mean Wilson Chandler, Gallinari, or their 2009 1st round pick. Because then the Suns would be getting a talented player that’s under contract instead of just a bunch of expirings with the option to re-sign. A trade like Chandler, Marbury and Nate or Lee for Amare and Barbosa would likely satisfy the Suns. But this assumes that either team would ever do any deal on Amare with the other.
The truth is, the Knicks are probably at the very bottom of the list of teams that the Suns would consider dealing with. D’Antoni and the Suns didn’t exactly part amicably and the feelings there are still pretty raw. It doesn’t help that Suns players are constantly criticizing the current state of the franchise by way of saying how much better things were when Coach D was around.
Likewise, there’s a lot of reasons the Knicks would want nothing to do with Amare. For those of you that have read Seven Seconds or Less, you know that D’Antoni was always ambivalent about Stoudemire. Coach D loved his talent and was the best at bringing it out but always felt that Amare was pulling in a different direction than the team. The book covers the season that Amare was out with his knee injury, and the coaching staff is captured constantly wondering whether Amare is bothering to do his rehab or even cares at all. (UPDATE: Tommy Dee is reporting this morning that, despite speculation to the contrary, at least from Amare’s prespective, he has no problems with Coach D.)
Moreover, from Donnie Walsh’s perspective, if he trades for Amare now, to great extent he’s defining who the Knicks are going forward. He’s using up one of the spots he has for a max free agent (no way you trade all that talent for Amare and then not re-sign him) and putting at least half his chips on the table. At that point, whether or not we get Lebron is really a function of whether he wants to team up with (and put up with) a mecurial star like Amare. After going to the trouble of getting far enough under the cap to lure the best player in basketball, a player who seemingly loves New York and could very well call it home in 2010, that’s a huge gamble to take.