The story of Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Nash, and Amare Stoudemire still have one more chapter left to be played.
Anybody who says otherwise are completely desperate, or truly believes that every single trade rumor will come true.
The three have one more year left on their contracts, before all three become unrestricted free agents in 2010. We can then expect this trio (and the entire Suns' roster) to dismantle and rebuild, but until then the Phoenix Suns still have one more contending run within themselves.
Despite heavy trade rumors, Steve Kerr's best option is to retain O'Neal, Stoudemire, and Nash for the upcoming season.
Shaquille O'Neal has been under strong trade talks for a possible trade to Cleveland.
Shaq's $20 million would come off the books, while the Suns would aquire Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace, for $5 million and $14 million respectively. If Wallace elects to get bought out, the Suns would save around $10 million in their account.
The desperate Cavaliers' brass would easily pull the trigger on the trade, doing whatever it would take to suite King James.
However, Steve Kerr should NOT just give away their best player to clear up cap room.
O'Neal has easily become the Sun's most effective player, resurrecting his career from what seemed like irreversible regression. His healthy 18 PPG and 9 RPG should continue into the next season.
No one in this year's free agent class can match the Big Diesel's impact, not even if the Suns desire to pay someone else the same kind of money Shaq is already making.
Either that, or the Suns would completely fall within the Western Conference standings. (Just to have an extra $10 million in cap space?)
Rather than getting a "role player" who's impact will be minimal, the Suns are best sticking with the powerhouse that is Shaquille O'Neal.
Half the teams within the entire NBA still cannot guard this man. The other half have to resort to double teams, severely crippling the other team's defensive capabilities.
At least until the trade deadline, dealing Shaq away for garbage players is pointless. Only then should the Suns worry about trades and clearing cap space.
Steve Nash, the wonderboy of the Phoenix Suns isn't going anywhere this season. At one time Nash seemed like a lock to retire with the Suns, but now Nash seems very open about signing with another franchise in 2010. (Can't be, lets say, the Knicks right?)
Then there's the Phoenix Suns' dark horse, Amare Stoudemire.
Like Nash, Stoudemire was once considered as a lock to be the franchise player in Phoenix for years to come. Now his stocks have all but fallen in Phoenix, leaving him prone to being shopped by the Suns' management.
One trade rumor speculated that Stoudemire would end up in Boston, in exchange for Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo.
If this trade was fired, the Suns would get an aging veteran who's extremely streaky. Rondo would completely overhaul Nash's future within Phoenix, something Steve Kerr is not ready to do.
Another rumor proposed Stoudemire in a Wizard's uniform, in exchange for either Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison, plus a draft pick. Stoudemire, Butler, and Jamison all have identical numbers, and with the addition of a draft pick the trade looks profitable for the Suns.
However with either Jamison or Butler, the Suns will give up much of whatever speed/run 'n' gun they still have left. Without Stoudemire, the Suns will become a stagnant half court team. With Gentry at the helms, it's obvious that Steve Kerr wants to retain a team that can still run. (Even with Shaq)
Neither Jamison nor Butler have the ability to absolutely go off with the stats. On any given night, Stoudemire can dish out 35 + points and 8 + rebounds, well into double doubles and even triple doubles.
Steve Nash's effectiveness will also be limited without S.T.A.T.
He'll no longer have a forward who can run with as much speed and finishing abilities as Amare. Jamison and Butler have decent speed, but neither can compare to Stoudemire's explosive transition and finishing game.
The Suns tried moving away from their fast paced offense, and it was a complete failure.
Steve Kerr now knows better than to make the same mistake twice.
The Phoenix Suns as they are right now with Shaq, Nash, and Stoudemire will be better off than with anything else they can get this off season.
Wild trade rumors will most likely come up again, (some that will make the Suns look like winners) but the actual chances of these rumors falling through are slim.
The bottom line is that the Suns need to retain their three star components, at the very least until the trade deadline. Stoudemire's absence certainly hurt the Suns this season, leaving many people to think that Phoenix somehow needed to completely dismantle and start over.
Things couldn't be further from the truth.
A front court anchored with the most physically dominating center, will always give the Suns more than a fair share to win against anyone. Top that with the most explosive power forward in the game, and Phoenix are easily playoff contenders again. Ice that further with the best facilitating point guard in the league as well.
Before Stoudemire's injury, the Suns were still defeating the majority of their opponents. Only until S.T.A.T. was injured was when Phoenix started slipping.
Shaq is still one of the top three centers in the game today.
Nash is still one of the top five point guards in the league today.
Amare Stoudemire is the most athletic and explosive power forward in the game of basketball today.
No trade this off season will ever give the Suns all that.