Busy night for a Sunday evening. First the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro cites "league sources" that several teams have expressed interest in Amare naming the Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Golden State Warriors.
Coro later tweeted a gentle reminder that this only represented those other teams interest in Amare. The NBA equivalent of window shopping.
The story developed further in the middle of the night (not sleeping has its advantages) when Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski (Woj to his friends) cited "league executives" that extension talks between the Phoenix Suns and Amare Stoudemire had already reached the point where his remaining in Phoenix seemed unlikely.
Suns general manager Steve Kerr met with Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, on Thursday, and league sources say there was little sense an agreement could be reached before the trade deadline. With Stoudemire able to opt out of the final $17.7 million season of his contract, the Suns don’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.
Suns fans have been down this road before but this time waiting it out does not seem to be a likely option. For the Suns to let Amare walk via his opt out option this summer would be a devastating blow to the franchise's long term health.
The Suns reportedly want a combination of young talent, picks and salary relief in exchange for Amare who Woj quoted a Western Conference executive as saying as likely to get a max or close to max contract in this unusual market.
Mark your calendars. The Amare Trade Market officially opened on January 24th, 2010.
A few points to remember:
- If the Suns were to wait and let Amare opt out and explore the market as a free agent they would only be about $5m to $10m under the salary cap and would not be able replace his $17m with another top notch player
- For Amare, the market conditions implore him to opt out now if an extension agreement can't be reached with the Suns. There are about 10 teams who have been setting up their rosters to have significant cap space this summer. They simply can't, not spend that money and Amare is right there in group of high-profile free agents that some struggling team will sign. Next summer there's no telling if there will be as many buyers available
- This doesn't even take into account Amare's natural desire to get a long term contract as soon as possible. Why wouldn't he turn down the final season at $17m to sign a longer team deal now. Amare can't risk playing out his final season when he could be injured again of even just see a decline in his performance. And lets not forget the entire NBA salary structure will be renegotiated in 2011 and all signs point to the owners seeking significant concessions from the players.
- This is Amare's best chance to get the best possible long term deal. He would be a fool not to opt out this summer and the Suns would be foolish to let him walk which is why I've been fairly certain that he would be traded before this trade deadline
- Obviously, any team trading for Amare will want to know they can keep him so that means Amare essentially holds veto power over any trade. He reportedly exercised that veto power this summer when a deal was being discussed with the Warriors and Suns
- Amare is looking for a franchise that he believe can win and he's smart enough to know that might take a little time. He seems to be looking for an ownership group committed to winning and in the NBA that means a team willing to spend money.
- Amare was smart to look at the Warriors and conclude they are not that team at least under the current owners. Minnesota also isn't likely for the same reason and it has the added disadvantage of being a small market (and that matters to Amare)
- I've long thought Chicago and Miami were likely destinations for Amare and I would now add New Jersey assuming the new Russian ownership group will be in place. Cleveland is interesting, but only if LeBron is staying and there's no way they could assure Amare of that
- Speculation and more rumors will continue right up until the deal is done. Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy few weeks
- On a side note, you have to wonder about the motivations of these "league sources" that are spreading this information. Paul and Woj are great reporters and great guys but this information was floated to meet someone's agenda. It could be as simple as the league using this type of chatter to maintain fan interest or it could be part of any number of other reasons that we can't begin to suss out