Let's all sing: It's not Amar'e


Feb 16

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Well, that was fun while it lasted. Yeah, All-Star weekend, too.

I’m taking about AmareFest, the delicious two weeks of speculation about whether your team could get All-Star starter Amar’e Stoudemire in trade.

I never thought it made sense, and now the Suns apparently agree with me.

With the official announcement Monday of the firing of coach Terry Porter, who was replaced by assistant and former Clippers coach Alvin Gentry, it seems the Suns reportedly have decided to keep Stoudemire, at least for the rest of this season.

Though with owner Robert Sarver one never knows.

Certainly Gentry lobbied to retain Stoudemire, and beleaguered general manager Steve Kerr said here Monday, ” I’d like to keep what we have and go forward and see what we can do. We’ve got a lot of potential here.”

Gentry promised a return to the Suns more exciting and open style under former coach Mike D’Antoni, though the Suns are averaging 104.4 points per game, fifth in the NBA.

“I guess we need more scoring,” offered one Sun.

Stoudemire is said to be on board despite seemingly being very open to a deal. He’s supposedly told teammates with all the attention, he now sees the team returning to a style in which he’ll get the ball more with pick and roll with Nash instead of popping out for jump shots with Shaq clogging the middle.

“We are who we are and I think we have to go back to trying to establish a breakneck pace like we’ve had in the past,” Gentry said at a news conference Monday. “The last 18 games (last season) we were 15-3 and we averaged 112 points a game with him (Shaq) in our lineup. There’s no reason—you saw him yesterday—why we can’t run with him.”

Actually, what was curious to most around the NBA was why the Suns suddenly refused to give the team with Shaq a full season since the whole idea of the trade was to have a game that can switch to being slower and post oriented for the playoffs. But Sarver, apparently facing mounting dept, reportedly ordered Kerr to seek a deal for Stoudemire of the kind Memphis made with Pau Gasol last year to save money. But insiders say Kerr has begun to resist with his credibility on the line, and the firing of Porter apparently appeased Sarver enough to reconsider for now. Porter is the eighth NBA coach fired this season.

This all came Monday with the arrest of Suns guard Jason Richardson for reckless driving and speeding, some 55 miles over the limit on a city street with his three year old not in car seat. The Suns then suspended Richardson for one game.

Though one could say the Suns had been engaging in some reckless endangerment of their franchise in the Stoudemire discussions.

And apparently the Suns also did not like any of the deals they were being offered and felt no team came close enough to the combination of salary cap relief and talent they needed to trade their best player.

Indications now are the Bulls supposedly best offer-though it could not be confirmed—of Drew Gooden, Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha and a No. 1 pick—wasn’t close to attracting the Suns’ real interest. Gooden’s expiring deal was one of the smallest they were offered, and though personnel chief David Griffin liked Thomas in college, there was serious doubts about a player who’d basically had three good weeks in three years in the NBA. Plus, Thomas would be looking for an extension after this season and the Suns didn’t want to start negotiating with a player who has such a spotty history.

Also with Sefolosha playing so little this season, the Suns weren’t able to make a determination on whether he could be a contributor.

So it likely was just a nice exercise for us all.

Though the question for the Bulls is, what now?

At All-Star break I heard talk that the Jazz might be inclined to trade Carlos Boozer to the Bulls for Kirk Hinrich, a favorite of Jazz management. Boozer has an opt out after this season, so he could be a very short term rental. Of course, given his lack of play this season he could play one more season on his deal. The bigger issue is he’s missed with injury more than half the games the Jazz has played since he’s been there. And as for one of those wink, wink promises to resign, well, the Cavs thought they had one from Boozer before he signed with the Jazz. And Boozer supposedly made it when Jim Paxson, who is now on the Bulls staff, was running the Cavs.

I’d hope the Bulls wouldn’t consider that, though, like Stoudemire, he’d run a nice pick and roll with Rose. Still, I’d rather wait and see if Stoudemire is available this summer, or maybe even Lamar Odom. Other possibilities this summer are Hedo Turkoglu and Mehmet Okur.

The Clippers remain a possibility with big men under big contracts in Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman with a team with a small record. Portland, also with a management that long has cherished Hinrich and in need of a better point guard, has several appealing players they could deal, as do the Warriors.

Just a few more shopping days.

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