Thunder and Suns: Was the Best Move No Move at All?
Many of the headlines today are focused on the deals that took place yesterday before the trade deadline. Some are also focused on Tiger Woods, but that’s not the point of this article.
This article discusses the NBA teams that didn't make moves during the deadline. Two teams come to mind quickly: The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns. First, lets look at the assets of each team.
Etan Thomas' expiring contract- $7.5 million.
Matt Harpring's expiring contract- $6.5 million.
Kevin Ollie's expiring contract- $1.3 million.
Two first round draft picks in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Amare Stoudemire's contract- $16.3 million this season and $17.6 million player option for next season.
Lenandro Barbosa's contract- $14.7 million over next two seasons.
Jason Richardson's contract- $13.3 million this season, $14.4 million next season.
Oklahoma City: Analysis
Both have a good selection of contracts, talent, and draft picks that would be valuable to some teams. However, neither team made a move.
The Thunder have been a surprising story this season, led by MVP candidate Kevin Durant. The Thunder have quietly won 31 games and currently hold the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference. Also, they currently have the league's longest winning-streak, at seven games.
General Manager Sam Presti has done a great job of building this team with young talent. It started with the selection of Durant, the trade of Ray Allen for Jeff Green, and the selection of Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka in the past two drafts.
Presti knew he had the chips other teams needed. And unless he was blown away by a deal, he wasn't going to make a move. He also knows that he needs the cap space to extend Durant, who is due a pay raise next season and has a qualifying offer of $7.9 million in 2011-2012.
Jeff Green is also on the same pay-schedule as Durant. The Thunder have a young and talented nucleus of players performing above expectations. They also have veteran leadership from Nenad Krstic, Kick Collison, and Thabo Sefolosha. Clearly, the sky is the limit for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Suns' President and GM Steve Kerr was in a tricky situation: trade away the second best player on the team and commit to rebuilding, or keep him and maybe lose him to free agency for nothing.
Stoudemire is part of a rare breed of big man who loves to run in the open court, making him a very explosive offensive player. For two years now, Amare has been the subject of trade rumors and the talk of where he will play next season.
He quieted some of the rumors by stating he would not opt out of his contract after this year. It could of been the truth. Or it could of been a reassurance to a team trading for him that he wouldn't leave after the season (Miami, Cleveland, New York). Whatever the case may be, more bridges are burned in The Desert.
This was a deal that Kerr had to make. Even if it wasn't the popular move: cash in your chips and get what you can. The Suns' desperately wanted a draft pick in this year's deep draft. But now they will have to wait and see. The locker room expected a deal to be made and now they will have to grin and bear it for the rest of the season.
The Bottom Line
The Thunder are winners because they didn't need to make a move. However, the Suns are losers at this year's deadline because they needed to make a move, and didn't.
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