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Updated Mar 27, 2012 - 4:04 pm

Stoudemire's injury does not validate Suns decision to let him go

The news that former apostrophe-less Suns star Amar'e Stoudemire is out indefinitely due to a bulging disc in his lower back would seem to indicate the Suns were right not to re-sign him following the 2010 season, instead letting him leave for the guaranteed money in New York.

After all, the Knicks are now on the hook for the rest of Stoudemire's $99.7 million contract, and after averaging just 17.6 points and 8 rebounds per game before the injury this year, it would seem he's going to be more "dead weight" than "All-Star" by the time his contract is done.

Congratulations, Robert Sarver and Co., you did something right.

Or maybe not.

Stoudemire getting hurt this season does not mean he could not have helped the Suns last season. STAT averaged 25.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in his first year in the Big Apple, numbers that would have been difficult not to achieve if he was still playing with Steve Nash in the Valley of the Sun.

And, given the fact that the Suns were coming off a season in which they reached the Western Conference Finals, it's not totally unreasonable to think that maybe - just maybe - the team could have made another deep playoff run.

We'll never know what could have happened - only what did. The Suns let Stoudemire go, signed Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress, traded for Hedo Turkoglu and then, during the season, dumped Jason Richardson and others to get Marcin Gortat.

A little more than a year after that - and nearly two years since Stoudemire left - all that's left of a Suns team that took the eventual champion Lakers to six games is Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Robin Lopez and regret.

Regret that, once again, the Phoenix Suns did not do everything they could to bring the Larry O'Brien Trophy to the desert.

Whether it was re-signing Joe Johnson, his wishes be damned, or actually using draft picks for themselves and not selling them for the sake of cap space, the Suns never seemed willing to bit the bullet, even if it meant a possible title.

Sure, the theme may have been "Eyes on the Prize," but there was often the occasional glance towards the financial books, too, which is why a guy like Kurt Thomas (and a pair of draft picks - one of which turned into Serge Ibaka) were shipped to Seattle immediately following a 61-win season.

Teams doing all they can to win do not dump quality players, especially if they are right on the cusp of winning a title. Instead, they go out and try to add to what they already have, even if it costs a little extra.

After all, a legitimate shot at an NBA title does not come around every year.

Of course the Suns may have felt differently not long ago, as they'd been among the league's best teams since signing Nash prior to the 2004-05 season. Early on they made championship-style moves - adding Jim Jackson, Kurt Thomas, Tim Thomas - but soon after seemed content to ride with what they had, slowly losing piece after piece from championship-caliber squads.

Would you have re-signed Amare Stoudmire if it meant one or two more shots at a title, even if you knew he'd be injured by the end of the contract?
Not sure

This is all easy to say when it's not your money. The NBA's luxury tax is no joke, and few owners are capable - let alone willing - of paying it on a consistent basis, though the league's best teams (and the Knicks) tend to suck it up and pay what it takes, because winning is the number one goal, no matter the financial cost.

Suns owner Robert Sarver does not feel that way - and hey, he's the one signing the checks, so he's well within his rights - as he'd like to win, and will do a lot, but not do everything he can to make it happen.

If he was willing to do so Stoudemire and his balky back would still be in a Suns uniform, though given the history of the Suns' training staff, it's fair to wonder if Amar'e would even be having these health issues.

If not, it's tough to argue the idea that Stoudemire, while still teamed with Nash and everyone else, would have been enough to keep the Suns atop the West. Besides, wouldn't you feel like you owe it to Nash and Grant Hill to really go for it, even if it meant sacrificing the future?

Instead Stoudemire was the proverbial white flag, as his departure effectively ended any chance - slim or otherwise - of the Suns finally capturing an NBA championship.


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