Stoudemire may not have a foot out the door after all

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It’s been all but assumed that when free agency opens this summer, Amar’e Stoudemire will already be on a flight out of Phoenix headed toward another team. Maybe Miami, maybe not. But his future seemed set for any team with cap space that wasn’t the Suns, a move which would leave Steve Nash as the lone remnant of the ‘Seven Seconds or Less’ era.

But not so fast, perhaps. Nothing in the relationship between Stoudemire and the Suns necessitates a divorce; even through all of the trade rumors, all of the hurt feelings, and all of Amare’e’s up-and-down play, nothing has damaged the Stoudemire-Phoenix link beyond repair. From Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic:

…the moment of truth is approaching, for basketball fans and the organization.

After Tuesday’s practice, Stoudemire said he’d love to stay in Phoenix if the Suns meet his number. No hard feelings or hometown discounts, just good business moving forward. It’s shaping up as a decision with major consequences, and the Suns must wonder: What’s real? What’s temporary? And once Stoudemire gets his money, how long until his knees scream for a doctor?

This much is tangible: Stoudemire has grown considerably in 2009-10. He is no longer a lone wolf on the road. He is an engaged teammate who hangs out with the entire group, a noticeable change that began in training camp. The stoic manner in which he handled a recent wave of trade rumors earned him much respect in the locker room, turning him into an empathetic figure.

So Amar’e could be a Sun for quite awhile if the price is right. Then again, maybe that’s the big problem; Suns’ owner Robert Sarver has been notorious over the years for his penny-pinching (the most infamous examples of which involve trading away first round draft picks that manifested themselves as Rajon Rondo, Luol Deng, and Rudy Fernandez), and if he’s been so reluctant to open up his wallet in the past, why would he do so for Stoudemire?

If the Suns were to lose Amar’e, they would struggle mightily. Steve Nash is still an absolute wizard, but having such a dominant force that can finish in the lane, run the floor, and space the offense with his shooting is damn near irreplaceable.

I just don’t see the Suns giving Stoudemire an offer on-par with the ones he’ll be receiving on the open market, and though the home team does have the advantage in terms of being able to sign Amar’e to six years rather than five, one can’t help but wonder if a six-year deal for Stoudemire is even a remote possibility for Sarver’s docket.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.