Seems like everybody is in on the Amare Stoudemire trade talk. Heck, even the Yankees are trying to make a deal for him. Some have tossed Oklahoma City into that mix, most saying it would be a combination of either Chris Wilcox or Joe Smith with Jeff Green and a couple draft picks.
Deal or no deal? A four-time All-Star that’s just 26 years old and has averaged 21-10, 25-9 and 21-8 the past three seasons. A guy that is an elite, established power forward in the league that could potentially take Oklahoma City from building to possibly built. Hit the red button right?
Look, Amare could totally flip the Thunder around in a heart beat. We know that. He’s an elite player that teams have to game plan for and he would most definitely open up the world for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. A lineup of Westbrook, Weaver, Durant, Stoudemire and Collison/Krstic doesn’t look bad at all. It’s looks pretty stinking good. But I don’t like it and I have reasons.
First, OKC would be giving up Jeff Green. And I don’t want to give up Jeff Green. There’s undeniable chemistry with him, KD and Russell Westbrook. Some scoff at “chemistry” in the locker room, but I love having a team that likes each other. They hang out with each other, go do things together and that means they probably like playing basketball together. You can’t teach team chemistry and I love the idea of these guys coming into the league together and slowly building a contender together. Don’t mess with chemistry unless you’re a chemist. And Sam Presti, you may be a boy-genius but you are no chemist.
Second, who knows if we can resign Amare? Stoudemire is a big-time star that is going to require big-time money. Right now, he’s making $15 million this year, $16 million next year and a player option for $17.5 million in 2010/11. And when his contract is up in 2011 he’s going to unprotected and is going to want mega-money. The worst thing OKC could do would be to mortgage the franchise on one guy when you’re already looking at breaking the piggy bank open to resign Durant. Other franchises have completely killed themselves by shelling out too much for a star. The Kings did it with Chris Webber’s albatross of a contract. The Wizards have it with Gilbert Arenas $111 million deal. Somebody is probably going to do it with Paul Millsap this offseason. When a guy is worth it, you lay the green out there. But, is Amare Stoudemire worth putting a strain financially on your team? I don’t think so. If you can’t resign Stoudemire, then what is the point in getting him for one and half seasons with the possibility of another?
Third, is he really that much better than Green? Green is 22 and is averaging almost 17 points and seven rebounds this season. He’s maybe the most improved player in the league. He doesn’t mind playing General Disarray to KD’s Professor Chaos and is the ultimate hard working teammate. So he might not be Amare Stoudemire, but that actually may be a good thing. Amare doesn’t have that killer instinct anymore and sometimes he looks a bit disinterested – especially on the defensive end. I don’t think he’s enjoyed not playing the fast-paced, loose offense that he got to his first six seasons. His numbers are way down post-D’Antoni and who knows how he’ll fit in with OKC’s roster. Jeff Green plays a different game than Stoudemire, but I almost like Green’s game better. Keep in mind, this is his second year and he’s improving. He’s becoming a better defender and a better rebounder. He could easily be a 20-10 guy for a long time – plus he hits threes at a high rate. I’d rather have that than the dunk machine. Besides, we may be getting Amare 2.0 this June anyway.
Fourth, Presti has a plan and instead of going all Joker on it, maybe we should stick to the plan. Build through the draft, made shrewd moves and sign cost effective free agents. Get guys that are committed to the defensive end of the floor and that can rebound, pass and score if they have to. I’m not sure if Amare fits that plan. Instead of shucking something you’ve been working to build the past few years, why not see it through? It’s not like OKC is making a push for the playoffs right now and needs a shake-up to get there. This season may be lost, but the future is bright.
One thing OKC fans should surely root for is that the Suns do deal Amare. And Steve Nash. And Leandro Barbosa. And everybody else. Because the Thunder hold rights to Phoenix’s 2010 first-round pick and it’s unprotected. So deal him Kerr! Deal him away! Package something up sending Amare and Jason Richardson to the Knicks for Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury. Do it. Do it.
If the Thunder were in the playoff hunt RIGHT NOW and needed a piece to maybe put themselves into serious contention, I’d probably say pull the trigger. Let’s do it. Let’s make our run now and worry about the future later. But what is the point right now? What do we actually gain by getting Stoudemire? Maybe a few more wins this season and possibly a playoff run next year, but what do we give up long-term? Amare is a wonderful player that would surely impact the Thunder. But it’s not part of the plan. And plus, I really, really like Jeff Green. Would the Suns take Robert Swift and cash considerations? That would surely improve that 2010 pick.