A report on Yahoo Sports today says that the Phoenix Suns are considering moving Amar’e Stoudemire. Rumors abound that Amar’e is dissatisfied with his new coach, his reduced offensive role, and the fact that people keep asking him to play defense. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – the knock on Amar’e since he joined the NBA has been his attitude.
Still, it must be said that Amar’e can flat-out ball. The guy has moves, an excellent mid-range game, and he can finish. If the Suns really are interested in moving Amar’e for a combination of youth and expiring contracts (as the report on Yahoo suggested), there are only a handful of teams that have a legit opportunity to land Amar’e.
It’s important to remember that whoever trades for Amar’e has to believe they can keep him beyond his opt-out in 2010, so you can scratch small market teams off the list. You can also cross all Western conference teams off the list of trade partners. Phoenix isn’t looking to improve any of their rivals.
In the east, Cleveland is out (they have no youth to trade back). Detroit is possible, but a package of Rasheed Wallace, Jason Maxiell, and a couple of draft picks would be hard for Steve Kerr to explain. New York is also a possibility, but they also lack youth (only David Lee would interest the Suns.) There’s also a lot of bad blood between Phoenix, D’Antoni, and Amar’e.
I believe you can cross every Eastern Conference team off the list except for one – Chicago. A trade of Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, and Drew Gooden for Amar’e, Tucker, and Amundson makes sense for both sides – here’s why:
Chicago gains a running mate for Derrick Rose. Amar’e can be the number one option on offense in Chicago, meaning he’s a lot more likely to be happy. Losing Deng and T.T. hurts of course, but Amar’e isn’t going to come free. Besides, shipping Deng off to Phoenix helps bring Chicago’s roster a little more into balance. With Deng gone, Chicago wouldn’t have to feel bad about paying Nocioni starter’s money (because he would be starting). The bottom line for Chicago – Rose and Amar’e can do some real damage in the East, no question. With Ben Gordon and Nocioni filling up the rim from outside, Hinrich coming off the bench, and Noah being big and burly in the middle, Chicago could have the talent to compete for a championship.
For Phoenix, the opportunity to add TWO solid young players is too much to pass by. Not to mention the fact that Drew Gooden can step in and start right next to Shaq and compliment him defensively (Gooden won’t set the world on fire, but he’ll rebound and defend better than Amar’e). Adding Deng to the starting rotation in Phoenix softens the blow that will come from losing Amar’e's offense, and it also allows Grant Hill to come off the bench so he’ll be fresh for the playoffs. If Phoenix is lucky, Tyrus Thomas someday matures into “Amar’e Light.”
For Phoenix, this deal keeps the championship dream alive while also buidling for the future. For Chicago, adding Stoudemire all but gaurantees a playoff appearance this year.
However, the best part of this deal is that both sides will firmly believe they completely screwed the other. Chicago will brag about dumping over-paid and under-achieving Deng and the inconsistent Thomas for an all-star, and Phoenix will gush about the fact that they dumped a malcontent forward who couldn’t guard a phone booth for two up-and-coming stars.
The key to a good trade, you see, is when both sides think they completely took advantage of the other. If Amar’e gets traded in 2009, my guess is that he’s headed to Chicago for Deng and Thomas.