The trade deadline passed without the Phoenix Suns making a deal.
The Suns did not get, nor were they making calls, so Amare Stoudemire remains a Sun.
The Suns had two teams vying for Stoudemire’s services, Miami and Cleveland, and were willing to deal their All-Star center if they could have received a “home run” package. They had serious discussions with Cleveland on a deal that would have landed them second-year power forward JJ Hickson, the expiring contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, forward Danny Green, the Cavs first-round pick and cash. The Suns were not willing to take anything less from the Cavs in order to move Stoudemire and the Cavs eventually found a trade partner in Washington that enabled them to land Antwan Jamison without giving up Hickson.
The Suns also were deep in conversations with Miami but the Heat don’t have much on the roster that interests Phoenix and Miami was reluctant to include forward Michael Beasley, whom the Suns would have shipped to another team.
Miami feels very good about their chances to land Stoudemire after he opts out of his contract this summer so they didn’t feel it necessary to include Beasley in a deal. Talks with both teams heated up to the point that Phoenix explored other deals for the expiring contracts they would have landed (either Ilgauskas or Udonis Haslem/Quentin Richardson) talking with Utah about Carlos Boozer, New Orleans about David West, Chicago about Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng and Philadelphia about Andre Iguodola. There was no scenario in which Phoenix would have kept Beasley had he been included in a deal.
So another trade deadline passed with Stoudemire still a Sun, the major question is what now?
That one is pretty easy to answer. Stoudemire will opt out of his contract if he is not given an extension by the Suns. Phoenix has offered two years at $14 million on top of next years salary of over $17 million. Stoudemire wants a four-year extension on top of next year. Maybe the sides can meet at three years but that is unlikely.
Around the league it is believed that Stoudemire will get a 5-year contract for $70 million from either Miami, who wants to pair him with Wade or New Jersey who has a billionaire new Russian owner who wants to make a splash.
There will be up to 10 teams with cap room so the chances of Stoudemire getting a big deal is high. So for the Suns to keep Stoudemire they would most likely have to move a four-year extension, tying Amare up for the next five years and that seems highly unlikely.
The Suns could still do a sign-and-trade at the end of the season enabling them to get some players and possibly a trade exception. If he walks and they get nothing for him they will take a step backwards next year, probably be a lottery team and then have unlimited cap room for the free-agent class of 2011 when the only big contracts they will have on the books are Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa.
If Stoudemire leaves in the off-season the Suns will replace him with a free agent at no more than the mid-level exception and play Earl Clark more minutes.
So the Suns will go forward with the team they have, make the playoffs and see what kind of damage they can do before this saga begins all over again in a few months.