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.