There are circulating rumors that the Nets are a contender to land Amare Stoudemire, either by the trade deadline or this summer. If that did happen, I believe we would see a repeat of the failed experiment in Phoenix last year.
It’s no secret the Suns are looking to unload Stoudemire before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. There are a few teams on the brink of going into rebuilding mode (Washington, Philadelphia and Detroit.) The sleeper team heading in that same direction is in fact Phoenix. They have recently flirted with the idea of shipping Stoudemire to Minnesota in a three way deal to land Nash’s inevitable successor, Ricky Rubio. However, this rumor has been refuted by Minnesota GM, David Kahn. So assuming that trade doesn’t go down, that leaves Phoenix in somewhat of a bind.
After starting the year off strong, Phoenix has tailed off recently winning only three out of their last ten games. They currently hold the 7th seed in the Western Conference, but lets be truthful here; the Suns can’t compete with the Lakers, Mavericks or Nuggets (1-4 record against those teams this season.) As good as Steve Nash has been this year, they lack the depth to stick with any of those teams in a 7 game series. So where does that leave the Suns? The idea is to trade away Stoudemire and receive draft picks, young players and, ideally, an established wing player as well. That’s a winning scenario for the Suns because they get something for Amare and use the draft picks and young players to prepare for the future without Nash. The nightmare situation for Phoenix is to let Amare leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Suns would be left with no valuable trade pieces and nothing to show for Amare’s departure.
That leads to the Nets’ involvement with Amare. Yi, CDR, Terrence Williams and Courtney Lee are all young players that could be involved in a possible trade. The Nets also have three draft picks in the 2010 draft all within the first 31 picks. A package of those pieces could be enough to land Amare. The question though, is does he fit on the Nets?
For years he has thrived playing in a “run n’ gun” system in Phoenix. He then struggled to adjust amidst Mike D’Antoni’s departure and Shaq’s arrival. New coach Terry Porter attempted to make the Suns a half court team centered around giving Shaq his touches in the post. Porter was fired on Feb. 16, 2009, but not for lack of success. Their record was 28-23 at the time, but his coaching style ultimately didn’t mesh with Nash and Stoudemire’s ability to run up and down the floor. Alvin Gentry replaced Porter and re-implemented the “7 seconds or less” approach to their offense. The team responded by scoring 140 points in Gentry’s first game as head coach. The point is, Amare will thrive in an up-tempo offense and struggle in the half court. Last time I checked, the Nets are no longer a fast break team. Those days are long gone. I watched the last Nets game and I didn’t see Jason Kidd nonchalantly tossing aleoops off the backboard to freakishly athletic forwards like Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson. What I did see was Brook Lopez getting a touch in the post 4 out of every 5 offensive possessions. The latter is clearly less exciting, but could be just as effective with the right players surrounding him. Amare Stoudemire should not be one of them.
It was recognized by the media that Shaq and Amare got along great off the court in Phoenix. It was even more noticeable, however, that their styles of play clashed on the court. If Amare were to come to New Jersey, I can’t see it being any different. Brook Lopez needs, better yet, deserves consistent touches in the post. It’s only his second year and he’s already shown signs that he could eventually be a dominant low post player. Not to mention he shoots over 80% from the charity stripe, a huge asset that most talented scoring centers don’t possess.
If the Nets’ objective is to land a huge star to play with Brook Lopez and Devin Harris/John Wall, the most fitting player would be an athletic swingman (like a LeBron, Wade or Joe Johnson.) Amare is a great, great player, but the fit just isn’t right in New Jersey.