If you follow NBA trade rumors at all, you are well aware of the published reports, both out of Arizona and nationally, that the Suns are likely to deal Amare Stoudamire before the trade deadline, which is nearly three weeks away. Why? There’s a few reasons but the main one is because he wants a max contract and with the sun beginning to set on the Suns Steve Nash induced run, Phoenix doesn’t want to lock him up much beyond when they expect Nash to retire, which is in two years. From reading around it appears that much of the fanbase won’t exactly be sad to see him go either.
So here is the deal. Try to read the whole thing before criticizing it. Also, approach it with the current state of the NBA in mind. A lot of people react to these trade scenarios like it’s a video game or fantasy league and anything short of LeBron for Kobe and a 2nd Round Pick is unfair. Admittedly, this is just for fun and entirely hypothetical, but getting inside a team’s true motive and circumstance, in my opinion, is what makes it worth reading.
Gives: Amare Stoudemire
Gets: Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins, Mark Blount, OKC 1st Pick (Lottery Protected)
The Thunder do this because (1) Sam Presti loves to trade and (2) their glaring weakness is a quality big man. A three-headed monster of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Amare Stoudemire would be truly electric. There’s also little downside on their end. Upgrading Jeff Green to Stoudemire is an absolute no brainer. Sure, Harden was the #3 pick overall less than a year ago but I still contend that they didn’t really want to make that pick, but rather did so because there just wasn’t anyone better available, in their mind. Westbrook and Harden are redundant and besides, a player like Stoudemire is infinitely more rare than a player like Harden. They also land Gomes, who though admittedly worse, is more or less the same sort of player as Green. They have to throw in the 1st Round Pick but it is Lottery Protected, hence avoiding any serious risk. Finally, some fans may disapprove because they feel this deal leaves the team with little depth, but keep in mind that they’d still have the bulky expiring contracts of Etan Thomas and Matt Harpring on hand to make one more noteworthy move in order to shore things up.
OKC Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Russell Westbrook
SG - Kevin Durant
SF - Ryan Gomes
PF - Amare Stoudemire
C - Nenad Kristic
Key Reserves: Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka
Analysis: A dynamic young team poised to make a playoff run now with assets still available to improve the team.
Whether or not you like this trade from a Minnesota perspective probably depends on how you feel about Rubio. David Kahn contends he isn’t on the table. Whether or not that’s true, he’s still potentially their biggest trade asset. This deal allows the Wolves to add two young pieces to their core in Green and Harden and still have a high lottery pick in the 2010 draft, as well as the cap flexibility to sign a big name free agent. Losing Gomes means nothing because they have an option to void his contract after this year and they’ll probably do so anyways. Blount and Wilkins and their expiring contracts are in the deal for no other reason than to balance the salaries and provide Phoenix with some cap relief. Some Minnesota fans will flinch at giving up Brewer, given how well he has played this season, but ultimately you’ve got to go with the more proven commodity in Jeff Green. In the end, this will all come down to the Rubio question. If Kahn really believes that Rubio will be part of the Wolves future then this deal never gets off the ground. On the other hand, if Kahn believes Rubio will drag his feet in Spain until he gets out of Minnesota then this may be the best deal they can get.
Minnesota Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Jonny Flynn
SG - James Harden
SF - Jeff Green
PF - Kevin Love
C - Al Jefferson
Key Reserves: Ramon Sessions, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Hollins
Analysis: Good to great young group with plenty of flexibility to get better through the draft and free agency.
Suns fans are most likely to dislike this trade. That’s because they’ll want a young star in return for Stoudemire, and I don’t blame them for that, but unfortunately it’s just not the reality of the NBA. Realistically, the best they’ll be able to hope for is cap relief, draft picks and some young mid-level prospects. Compounding the already difficult nature of trading a superstar is the fact that Stoudemire is in the final year of his contract, which means if he doesn’t like where he goes he won’t re-sign. He has already said that he will only re-sign with a contender. Sure, the dregs of the league could probably offer up better picks and prospects but he would never agree to sign there meaning no team that didn’t already have a handshake agreement that he’d re-sign would ever deal anything meaningful for him. So basically, any trade in which Phoenix receives value will have to be in some round about way like this. The one thing that contradicts this theory is a recent interview in which Stoudemire implied he’d be okay with going to the Nets, who are obviously a historically bad team. The Nets aren’t giving up Brook Lopez or Devin Harris until they know if they get John Wall. They sure as hell aren’t giving up the pick that could land them John Wall, which means the best they could offer would be some combination of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams and Yi Jianlin. When I think honestly about it, I’d rather have a package that includes a potentially transformational star in Ricky Rubio than a couple of guys who already appeared limited to slightly above mediocre. In fact, ESPN Insider ran a report this week about how the Suns have big time interest in Rubio as the future successor to Steve Nash. Makes sense, if you think about it. The Suns also pick up what will most likely be a mid to late 1st Round Pick and an emerging player in Corey Brewer who would fit their run and gun style well. Lastly, they clear a bunch of cap space that would make them relevant players in free agency sooner rather than later.
Phoenix Post-Trade Lineup:
PG - Steve Nash
SG - Jason Richardson
SF - Grant Hill
PF - Channing Frye
C - Robin Lopez
Key Reserves: Leandro Barbosa, Corey Brewer, Goran Dragic (Suns fans love this dude)
Analysis: Probably won’t improve this year, but this trade isn’t about that. It’s about setting them up to recover in the next two years, which this trade does do.
Okay then, rip away.