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Moving Amare…

The conventional wisdom for the last year has been that the Suns were looking to move Amare Stoudemire, lest they lose him for nothing next summer. However, what if the reality is actually the opposite? What if the Suns are looking at moving Amare for fear that in June he decides to stay?

Yes, this summer there will be a litany of teams who strike out on the LeBron-Wade-Bosh troika and hastily rush to spend their money elsewhere, settling instead for the “Joe Dumars special”. And yes, until the market crashed Amare was seen as a max contract player, but… The NBA is different now.

Teams are legitimately more concerned with their bottom line than with their talent. Franchises are really struggling, not just to make money, but to avoid hemorrhaging money. Plus, there are also serious fears over what the next labor negotiations will do to the financial landscape in general and the cap specifically.* Amare, with his injury history, his questionable attitude and practice habits, and his severe allergy to rebounding and defense, is not the stud he once was.

*(For an excellent recap of the fears GMs have over what will happen to the salary cap after the current collective bargaining agreement expires, check out Ian Thomsen’s article on the pending labor negotiations.)

If teams start pinching pennies, Stoudemire might have real difficulty getting a max deal. Assume that Stern succeeds in implementing a hard cap (doubtful) or reducing the current cap (basically a guarantee) and simultaneously reduces the maximum contract dollar and length (both probable). All of the contracts signed this summer will be grandfathered in, but if the max number is going to significantly drop, then you’d better be sure you signed the right guy to be your grandfathered contract. I think there is a strong possibility that a GM will seriously rue having committed six years and a 130 million to a diminishing Amare.

Now, five years ago there was Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Rob Babcock, Billy Knight, and Wes Unsled who all would have ignored the signs and dropped a buck fifty on Amare, but now…? I don’t know. Maybe Chicago doesn’t get one of the big three and, wary of the PR hit of not using their cap space, dumps the truck in Amare’s yard. Yet, after the public lambasting that Dumars has taken for doing something similar last summer, GMs seem to understand better than ever the implication of cementing your cap space on the Charlie Villanueva’s of the world.

So, if Amare isn’t set up for a big pay day, might he take a one year deal and try to improve his stock for 2011? Because here’s the thing, Amare has a player option with the Suns for 16 million next season. Phoenix, the George Costanza of NBA teams, is well known for cutting costs at every corner, so what if the Suns are assessing the NBA landscape, seeing that the offers that Amare’s expecting might not exist, and fearing him picking up that option?

The Suns might be legitimately looking at moving Amare from a talent standpoint, but… I’m just saying that if you see Stoudemire traded before the deadline for Brad Miller and Jerome James, well…

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