Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Rambling - Amare Stoudemire

The NBA trading deadline is this Thursday afternoon and typically the deadline results in a few minor trades, and a few trades of guys that retired 3 years ago but resign for an insane salary and allow themselves to be traded to make the salaries involved work (see Keith Van Horn and potentially Wally Szerbiak this year). While the Knicks appear to be excited about getting the corpse of Tracy McGrady, the only real big name that may be traded is Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns. There are teams that want Stoudemire, teams that the Suns want to trade him to, and teams where Stoudemire would like to be traded. Is he really worth it? And how will it work out with the likeliest team to get him?

The Suns would like to trade Stoudemire to Philadelphia for Andre Iguodala but the 76ers have no plans to make that deal. Amare would like to be traded to Miami, where he keeps an off-season home. Yet the Suns are not interested in Michael Beasley, which is the core of the offer the Heat are making. The Suns are in alignment with my thoughts on Beasley that he is not the type of player you want to build a franchise around. Beasley is like Nicole Eggert from her days on Charles in Charge – good enough to draw some attention as a side character or among other stars (she was on Baywatch with Pam Anderson), but could never carry a show by herself. The Golden State Warriors are trying to get involved by offering Corey Magette, but it appears that their best shot is to be the third team involved in a deal. The most likely landing spot for Stoudemire appears to be Cleveland, which has offered young JJ Hickson and the corpse of Zdrunas Illgauskas. (Random side note – I rode an elevator with Big Z in a hotel in Boston before opening night of the 2008-09 season. I asked if he was ready for the season and he grunted and said “It’s such a long and dragging season – I’m already looking forward to the all-star break.”)

So why would Cleveland give up the young and improving Hickson to get Amare, possibly without a contract extension? I’m not really sure. I have to make the disclaimer that I have not watched a complete Suns game in years. I don’t really understand the appeal of Amare. He is a great athlete and a ferocious dunker. But does that make him a great basketball player? Does that make him worthy of a max contract? He has impressive stats – 21.2ppg and 8.6 rpg this season, which is close to his career averages. Then again, Megan Fox has impressive stats, but it all falls apart when she has to act or open her mouth. Amare shoots nearly 55% from the field and averages over a block a game. Yet watching the highlight package that ESPN shows when they discuss the trade rumors, every single shot is either a dunk or a layup crashing to the rim off a great pass from Steve Nash. John Hollinger of ESPN has in his scouting report that he is a good outside shooter, yet quotes his shooting percentage at only 46% on jump shots. I also did a youtube search for Amare highlights and everyone only focuses on his dunks. Granted, those are the plays that tend to make highlight reels, but if you do a search for Barkley highlights or Malone highlights, you will see some jumpers, some fadeaways, and some lay-ups.

The other question is how effective Amare will be when he’s not playing with the incredible passing of a Hall of Fame point guard in Steve Nash. Getting passes from a shot-happy point guard like Mo Williams will not lead for nearly as many reckless crashes to the rim. Add to that the concern of Amare playing with Shaq, because that did not work very well during the 2008-09 season in Phoenix, when Amare’s numbers were down nearly 4 points and a rebound a game. If Amare was such a foundation for a team, wouldn't the Suns be interested in signing him to an extension rather than trading him?

At the end of the day, why are the Cavs so interested in a guy that is not a complete player, who needs a new contract and will be playing in a system not the most conducive to his talents? Because LeBron said so. King James is interested in playing with Amare and the Cavs are willing to do any and everything to try and keep him happy enough to resign with the Cavs this summer.

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