As a long, long time Suns fan, this is my official plea to the Suns front office to not trade Amar'e Stoudemire. This is my 28 years of loyalty on its knees, begging and kowtowing for the Suns to not trade Amar'e.
Why? Let's start with the obvious.
First, Stoudemire is a 26-year-old beast, blessed with great hands, vertical leap, and a beautifully soft touch around the basket and on the perimeter. How long did the Suns wait for a legitimate, dominant big man? Since the days of Charles Barkley, we've suffered through the likes of Clifford Robinson, Tom Gugliotta, and (eep) Rodney Rogers.
Second, who do you get to replace him? If Boris Diaw were still on the team, then at least there's a viable fallback plan, but there's no one out there on the trade market to play the 4. The backup power forward right now is the undrafted, all-hustle-but-low-talent Louis Amundson.
There's a reason why the other teams are clogging up the phone lines with offers—they all know that they have a chance to get Amar'e for 70 cents on the dollar. Maybe even less than that.
And third, it's my opinion that Stoudemire isn't the problem. It's the way he's used. Last night's game vs. the Warriors was very telling.
The Suns have stubbornly started every game by trying to get Shaquille O'Neal off to a fast start. For the first 10 minutes, the offense consists of entry pass into the low post, back a man down, wait for a double team, if it comes, and pass out.
Sometimes Shaq will find his way to the basket, sometimes he doesn't. But in the meantime, there are four other born scorers on the team just waiting around for something to happen.
Here's my suggestion: Start games by going to Amar'e and Grant Hill. Let those two do what they do best. The first quarter against the Warriors was a thing of beauty—with Shaq out with two quick fouls, the Suns either pounded it in to Amar'e, or hit with Hill streaking past the defense.
When Amar'e scores, he does everything else better. He defends (as much as he can). He rebounds. He hustles. After Amar'e's role has been established, then figure out how to feed the big fella, perhaps at the beginning of the third quarter.
The problem isn't the makeup of the team, or the coaching staff. Tinkering with either will just prolong the growing pains, and time is running out on the regular season.
The problem is the way Amar'e is used. Start the attack with him, and the rest of his game will follow.
Now, that doesn't solve the other problems with the Suns—huge payroll, aging team, no draft picks. But before we give away the best big man we've had since Sir Charles, I'd like to see if this new strategy might work.
I sure hope it works.