Amare Stoudemire may be leaving Phoenix. Or he may not be leaving Phoenix. In an exclusive interview with Bright Side of the Sun he revealed that he didn't know for sure which would happen, leaving the door open for either scenario.
That's right, you heard it here first. Amare isn't sure if he will or will not be traded in the coming weeks. His lack of clarity on the matter only gives more fuel to his critics who worry about Amare's inability to predict the future, something that has long plagued his career.
Stoudemire did have some interesting things to say about the time-line for a decision, where he would potentially want go, his thoughts on holding the cards to his future, and a report from this morning that linked him to "locker room tension".
On the possibility of being traded
Asked about a recent ESPN analysis (Insider) that put the chances of an Amare trade at "40 to 50 percent", the Phoenix Suns all-star center (in waiting) said this about those odds, "I'm not sure. It's possible, same as it was last year. So like I've said before my agent is conversing a lot with the front office here (in Phoenix) and we are going to come up with a decision soon."
The conversation between the Suns and Amare's representative is fairly straight forward and only the opening gambit to this process which has many steps as outlined in this convenient flow chart.
Amare still believes (as of this morning) that he is worthy of a max contract. Most other observers who have watched Amare over the course of his career question that based on his defensive liabilities and lack of franchise-level leadership presence.
Steve Kerr and the Suns have yet to tip their hand publicly but past signs point to a disconnect from the get-go. Kerr said last year that he feels only two or three players in the league were deserving of max contracts and listed Kobe, LeBron and Duncan (and not Amare).
That's not to say an agreement can't be reached. Both sides are negotiating and neither is going to show all their cards until they have to. But with the Feb 19 trade deadline approaching we should learn soon enough if there's an agreement to be had on extending Amare's tenure as a Phoenix Sun.
I put the chances of his staying at about 40 to 50 percent. I wonder what Amare would say to that?
On having options and where he might use them
Amare is in the driver's seat for what happens next to both him and the Phoenix Suns. It's a position that he's happy to have, "I think it's a good position to be in. You never want to be in a position where you have no control. I would rather for it to be fifty-fifty where we could come up with a mutual agreement and make the correct decision for the both of us."
On numerous occasions Amare has said that winning is an important factor in any decision on where he wants to go but admitted today that market size also plays a role.
"Market size does play a factor. There's a lot of different factors. Being able to win and if you can't win this year then how long would it take to build it to win," Amare said. "It's all about being able to, and being willing to have a team that's willing to build a championship caliber team."
Over the years Amare has responded favorably when asked about specific cities including Washington DC, New York and most recently the New Jersey Nets who he considers to be a team with potential.
He talked about the Nets with Fred Kerber of the NY Post:
"It may scare some but . . . it won't scare us," Stoudemire said of the (Nets) record. "We understand how good a team [they] can be if they put the right pieces together. So the opportunity is bright for the Nets. It's a matter of making the right decisions.
"Brook Lopez is playing well and Devin is playing well. Even Yi is not a bad player. So you have that and then you can put pieces around them. You bring in a big time star and you see what you can do."
On "locker room tension"
ESPN's Chad Ford reported (Insider) this morning that, "the word out of Phoenix is that there has been some tension in the locker room involving Stoudemire."
Amare had no idea what this was about. When I brought it up he was perplexed and a little irritated asking me, "What's locker room tension? What is that?"
Having been around the team in many practice sessions and in the locker room after games, I've never once seen signs of any player-related tension let alone anything specific to Amare.
Stoudemire was adamant in his denial of this report, "I think it's great. The chemistry with us is phenomenal. It's been fun all season long and we've been growing that way. There's no locker room tension. I don't know where that came from."
Which begs the question, where did it come from? Assuming you believe Amare, and I do. And assuming you believe that Chad Ford didn't make up that report, and I do. You have to ask who benefits by floating that rumor.
Perhaps a team that knows it is going to need to trade a popular player with a resume most fans find very impressive would feel the need to undermine that players reputation prior to his being moved.
It wouldn't be the first time that happened in Phoenix.