For the last couple weeks I planned on writing a blog about how the Suns should not trade Amare Stoudemire, but instead should re-sign him.
The way I saw it, he was not as bad a player as people made him out to be, and there is no way the Suns would get equal talent in return, so they may as well keep him around, sign him to an extension and try to build for a future with him.
That blog will not happen.
With the team’s recent struggles and Amare’s consistently inconsistent play, I have come around to the school of thought that it is time for STAT and the only team he has ever known to part ways.
Granted, trading Stoudemire will not solve the Suns’ problems. Amare is not the only one on the team who does not play any defense, and he certainly is not alone when it comes to giving an inconsistent effort on the glass.
What trading Stoudemire does do, however, is allow the Suns to start moving on from the team that came oh-so-close to a title, but in the end fell short. While that team was probably good enough to win a ring, the fact that they didn’t is still a sore spot among Suns fans. Those fans, in turn, have focused much of their angst on the 9th year forward.
Stoudemire is an easy target for fans. He is fond of talking himself up but failing to deliver. He consistently tells anyone who will listen that he will become a stout defender and effective rebounder, solidifying himself as one of the NBA’s best players. Given that he is the team’s only real “talker,” he almost puts the bull’s-eye square on his back.
What fans do not realize (or refuse to recognize) is that Stoudemire, for all his faults, is far from the team’s only problem. He is still one of the best offensive players in the game; he can hit the jump shot, drive around you, and finish. He is the only Sun who consistently gets to the free throw line, and he is a dynamic finisher. That he has huge games where he has over 20 points and 13 rebounds shows the ability is there, and talents like that do not come around very often.
There is a reason Stoudemire is being pursued by a dozen or so teams, and it is not because he is not a good player. But they, like myself, probably feel that he will never get any better in Phoenix. It’s possible his development as a player has stalled in the Valley of the Sun, and a change of scenery could be all he needs to take his game to the next level. Honestly, put him on a team that stresses defense and rebounding and see how he responds.
While Suns fans are probably ready for the news that Stoudemire has been traded, they need to be ready to cringe when they see what the Suns will get in return. Rarely when you trade a star player do you get equal talent in return, especially when it is obvious you are trying to move the player. The best the Suns can probably hope for is a solid young player, cap space and some draft picks – none of which will help them win this year.
But this move is not about winning this year – it can’t be. You do not immediately get better by trading Amare Stoudemire, especially when you still have plenty other problems with the roster. All trading him does is begin the rebuilding process, which will likely include moving Jason Richardson and Leandro Barbosa, and should include dealing Grant Hill and Steve Nash.
Of course, if the Suns want to do things the right way, building the team from scratch, the process will be difficult for the fans to handle. The Suns have never truly “re-built,” instead opting for quick fixes through free agency. It has allowed them to always be competitive and relevant, but has also hindered their chances at winning a title, as they’ve never been able to draft that dynamic, franchise-type player.
I used to think Amare Stoudemire would be the one to lead the Suns to that elusive first championship. Early in his career he looked like he would be one of the best to ever wear a Suns jersey, and would be the player they built their team around. That is obviously not the case now, and it is time for both parties to move on.
Adam can be reached with your questions and comments by e-mail here.