When the Phoenix Suns last made the NBA Playoffs in 2010, Amar’e Stoudemire was their leading scorer.
As we all know, STAT left the Valley after that season for a big contract in New York, and after an excellent 2010-11 season in which he averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, the forward’s time in the Big Apple did not go particularly well.
Injuries, which are the reason the Suns did not offer the kind of contract the Knicks did in 2010, have sapped Stoudemire of much of his athletic ability.
However, he has played in 35 games this season — including 14 starts — and is averaging 12.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game. In the final season of the five-year, $100 million contract he signed in 2010, reports are circulating that the Knicks are going to buy him out, freeing him up to sign with whatever team he chooses.
And one of those teams might very well be the team he left nearly five years ago. According to ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle, in an Insider piece, Phoenix is the prime landing spot for Stoudemire, should he be available.
There have been some whispers that Stoudemire could return to Phoenix, though it’s unclear whether that buzz came from the player, the agent or the team. The Suns are well situated at power forward between the Morris twins and Brandan Wright, plus any number of options in small lineups. Stoudemire could help at center, where the Suns rank just 16th in positional RPM and Alex Len is battling ankle trouble. It’s not a perfect fit. Stoudemire may require more touches than Phoenix’s guard-heavy attack has to give, and the Suns don’t have the defensive backbone up front to account for Stoudemire’s shortcomings on that end.
Yet here’s why it might work: The Suns need to make a splash as they scramble to hold off the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Phoenix has dropped six of nine while playing against several of the prime contenders in the West. The sputtering offense has managed just over a point per possession during that span. It’s not post-heavy offense, but the according to Synergy, the Suns rank 28th in points per play on post-ups.
It would actually make sense on a lot of levels. Stoudemire would not be returning to be the man, but instead another piece in the puzzle. The Suns’ training staff is known for being able to not only keep players healthy, but improve their health, which could in turn lead to a resurgence for the 32-year-old former ninth-overall selection.
But of course, for any of this to happen the Knicks first need to buy out his contract. And if that does happen, we’ll have to see if there is interest in making a Phoenix reunion a reality.
Other teams listed as good fits for Stoudemire are the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.