in chad ford’s espn story on trade possibilities for amare stoudamire, he proposes a number of potential trades, but i didn’t find most of them that compelling. i won’t bother detailing why – you can go see for yourself and make your own judgement. the one trade i thought made a lot of sense was the detroit trade mentioned. but i couldn’t shake the feeling that there were some other teams out there that might be able to make it work, and wanted to check it out.
for a trade for amare to make sense for a team giving up anything other than what bill simmons likes to call the pu-pu platter, that team would have to have a sense that amare would be happy there and would fit. as stein says, amare wants to be the face of a franchise (never mind that he doesn’t play enough d and isn’t sound enough fundamentally to take a team to the championship). but beyond that, i don’t think he’d be happy as the biggest fish in the wrong town. stein suggests he wouldn’t be happy in oklahoma city, and i agree. i don’t claim any special insight, but at a distance my opinion is that amare also would not be happy in memphis, minnesota, milwaukee, indiana or salt lake city, either. the salt lake city thing is too bad, because they’ve got some great assets they don’t really need right now (think boozer and AK), but i don’t think jerry sloan could handle amare’s lack of attention to detail and defensive mediocrity. still, it seems to me that other than those (significant) factors, the jazz could be a good fit. almost every other guy on that team is a tough-minded defender (with the possible exception of okur), but they seem to lack the explosive scoring that amare could give them. then again, it’s not clear if amare and milsap could work well together. okur would certainly not be in his way…but i think the biggest barriers are that amare wouldn’t like salt lake or the demands sloan would place on him, and amare might make sloan’s head explode… not that that would be a bad thing…i’d certainly be willing to pay to see it.
i don’t know about charlotte, but for no good reason i have this feeling amare could be happy in charlotte. also for no good reason i think he might be able to handle toronto, but they don’t really fit for other reasons (see below), and maybe even sacramento if the maloofs made a big enough fuss about him. anyhow, i wandered over to espn’s great trade machine and tried a few things on for size. i thought the following deals deserve consideration alongside those mentioned by stein.
here are some of the key ideas that drove the search. 1) the city has to be a city where being “the man” is a lot of fun. 2) amare would have to be a centerpiece, the focus of the team. 3) the team and the coach would have to be able to deal with amare’s defensive approach, which is less than dominant, and in fact is less than average, for most guys who play that position in the nba, 4) the team has to have decent trade assets, both in terms of talent and contract terms, and can’t hold on to guys who’d need the same space on the floor that amare needs to operate (thus, toronto with bosh, atlanta with josh smith, washington with antawn jamison, the sixers with brand, and the clippers and denver with multiple guys there are out) and, 5) the team needs to want to become good, but not need to be championship good because, frankly, that would necessitate violating points 2 and 3. i just don’t think the guy has the mental toughness and discipline to take a team all the way. he wants to be tim duncan, but he’s no tim duncan.
that list of criteria led me to the following teams that stein neglected to consider: new jersey, charlotte, and golden state. and, if the maloofs could sell it, maybe sacto.
so, here’s what i came up with on the trade machine:
the simplest trade, but one that probably doesn’t make sense for phoenix, is vince carter straight up for amare. the problem is that vince’s deal has four years left, and it doesn’t let phoenix trim any salary, so they don’t really gain by doing it. still, would you watch a starting 5 of nash, j-rich, vince, robin lopez or louis amundson and shaq, with matt barnes, grant hill, and leandro barbosa coming off the bench?
a better trade might be amare ($15 M with 3 years on the contract) and goran dragic ($1.9M, 3 yrs) for stromile swift ($6.2M, 1 yr) , brook lopez ($2M, 2 years), and bobby simmons ($10M, 2 years). phoenix gets a great young player in lopez, but does new jersey make this trade? maybe not. amare may be better than lopez, but lopez is an easier guy to build around, and the simmons and swift contracts give nj a lot of room to work with that they lose if they make this deal. still, that would give them a core of devin harris, carter, and amare, and that could be enough to make noise in the east, though it probably puts them in fifth place out there, bowing out in the conf semifinals for years to come.
of course, new jersey could get that room to maneuver on salaries in the summer of 2010 with the following blockbuster: shaq AND amare to new jersey for vince carter, brook lopez, stro swift, bobby simmons, and jarvis hayes. new jersey gets devin harris and amare as the foundation for the future, and shaq for this year and next and has a ton of money free in the summer of 2010. if they add one or two other serviceable players, they can make an impact in the east, and be way fun to watch, a ticket-selling beast. the downside for them is giving up lopez, who looks like he can be a stud, but is he likely to be more of a stud than amare? maybe, but they’re not going anywhere now. phoenix gets a great center in lopez, who might be happy to be reunited with his bro and is a great deal with 2 years left on his contract at a paltry $2M per year. simmons contract ($10 M, 2 years) ends at the same time as lopez’, so that money can be used to resign lopez. and swift is $6M that comes off this year. now you’ve got a starting 5 of nash, richardson, vc, swift, and b. lopez, with an awesome bench including hill, barbosa, and barnes. could be fun…
sean may ($2.6M, 1 yr), adam morrison ($4.1M, 2 yrs), and gerald wallace ($9.5M, 4 years) for amare. wallace impressed the hell out of me in the lakers game where bynum destroyed wallace’s rib and lung while sealing his own doom with the resulting bad karma. i don’t know if he plays all the time the way he did in that game, and i don’t know if he can bounce back from that injury strong, but if he does, i say he’s a stud, and a great addition to the suns. i think morrison will be more useful on the suns than he is on charlotte, who need more from him than he has to give. on phoenix though, he…wait a second…scratch this. i just learned charlotte traded morrison to the lakers for vlad radmanovic. what?! how is morrison an upgrade on vlad? alright, i guess this has to be scratched. the only other contracts that make it work are d.j. augustin’s ($2.2M, 2 yrs), and i don’t think they’ll give him up, and raymond felton ($4.1M, 1 yr), ditto. however, augustin and felton do play the same position and have similar stats, and either one would be a nice backup for nash. so…maybe…i think the deal might make sense for the suns if they get felton. felton + may gives them $6.7M coming off this year, and wallace gives them a great 4 for several years at a substantial discount to amare. the big problem with this trade is, like sloan, larry brown probably couldn’t handle amare’s approach to detail, and like sloan, amare could also possibly make larry brown’s head explode…unlike sloan, we’ve seen larry’s head explode so many times that i don’t think i’d pay to see it yet again.
amare for brandan wright ($2.4M, 2 yrs), marco belinelli ($1.4M, 2 yrs), ronny turiaf ($4.5M, 3 yrs), jamal crawford ($8.6M, 3 yrs). not sure this really makes sense for the suns, since they take on extra salary, and not much of it comes off until 3 years from now, but then, they get substantial talent and flexibility back. they could drop belinelli from the deal to save salary, but it isn’t that much money, the guy shows promise, and he could be a steal that lets them move a bigger salary in his spot this summer or next year. wright is a stud, straight up, turiaf will do a lot of the work they need alongside shaq, and crawford brings a ton to the table without all the baggage of an amare. in return, golden state gets a little more clarity and focus. starting five for g.s. once everyone’s healthy: ellis, jackson, magette, amare, biedrins. amare gets to be the man in the bay area, and to play a kind of style he’ll get off on.
amare for kenny thomas ($8.5 M, 2 yrs), shelden williams ($3.4M, 1 yr), and bobby jackson ($6.5 M, 1 yr). this lets phoenix lose $10M at the end of this season, and $8.5 at the end of next season. on the talent front, it’s a stretch. the chicago deal that stein discussed (ty thomas, thabo sefolosha, drew gooden, and joakim noah) probably makes more sense for them than this.