Roundtable: Time to deal Amaré?
Writers disagree about whether the Suns should trade Amaré Stoudemire
Stoudemire's value is high; he can become a free agent after next season
More topics: strong Spurs; "race" for worst record; improving All-Star weekend
SI.com NBA writers analyze the latest news and address hot topics from around the league each week. (All stats are through Monday.)
1. Should the Suns deal Amaré Stoudemire?
Ian Thomsen: They should trade him because his value is high, judging from the interest in him leading up to the Feb. 19 trading deadline. The Suns are in decline and they not only can begin rebuilding with the assets from a Stoudemire trade but also improve their floor balance (especially on defense) to salvage something from this season. A trade will be good for Stoudemire. He's been the fall guy in Phoenix, and he'll benefit from a restart with a new team that really wants and needs him.
Jack McCallum: No. I have a rule -- incidentally, it's probably why I'm not a general manager -- that you shouldn't do a deal when you don't get commensurate talent in return, and certainly not when you don't get nearly commensurate talent, which would be the case in nearly any trade involving Stoudemire. Yes, he is headstrong, unhappy in the current system, defensively deficient and will probably opt out of his contract in 2010. But to deal someone with his immense offensive gifts in exchange for expiring contracts and a toe-dip below the luxury-tax line would haunt this franchise.
Chris Mannix: Trade a 26-year-old franchise power forward who may have still not reached his entire potential? Huh? Steve Kerr is intent on taking a bulldozer to the team that Mike D'Antoni and the Colangelo family built; the Phoenix GM traded Shawn Marion, let D'Antoni go, changed the Suns' run-and-gun style by bringing in Terry Porter and dealt Boris Diaw and Raja Bell. So if Kerr does trade Stoudemire, it wouldn't be a surprise. But despite the Suns' roller-coaster season, Stoudemire is one of a handful of true cornerstone players in the league. Kerr should be building around him, not rebuilding without him.
Steve Aschburner: The Suns must trade Stoudemire because the NBA and its fans are owed -- at this point in the dismantling of the decade's most enthralling team -- a full and complete accounting of just what Kerr and owner Robert Sarver are thinking. The only way to get that is to allow -- nay, encourage -- the two architects to realize their master plan for Phoenix. The Suns already aren't the Suns anymore, so why stop now? They have taken a change of direction as jarring and dubious as Bobby Darin ditching pop for folk music (that's for McCallum) or Joaquin Phoenix deciding to rap instead of act. Huh? At this point, though, it's train-wreck watchable.
2. In a four-day span, the Lakers won at Boston in overtime, the Spurs edged the Celtics in Boston and the Lakers handed Cleveland its first home loss. What did you glean from these showdowns between top contenders?
Ian Thomsen: That the Spurs are still relevant and the Lakers are the team to beat. It's not so much that the Lakers beat Boston and Cleveland in midseason, as those results will be irrelevant four months from now in the NBA Finals; it's how they won. The Lakers showed the stubborn tenacity and fight that defined the Celtics last year. One week after losing Andrew Bynum, they proved their commitment to winning the championship. The Celtics and Cavaliers are a step below L.A. by that standard, which isn't to say they can't make it up over the months ahead.
Jack McCallum: It told me the most about the Spurs. We already knew that the Celtics are very good but not a super team. We already knew that the Lakers are eminently capable of beating anyone, as they showed last year when they made the Finals despite not having Bynum for the last half of the season. We already knew or we should've known -- that the Cavaliers were not going to go through the season undefeated at home. But, as usual, we've forgotten about the Spurs, and they demonstrated that they are still an elite team even with lesser lights such as Roger Mason and Matt Bonner in the starting lineup.
Chris Mannix: It's tough to take too much away from regular-season games in February, but two things stood out. First, Bonner is going to be a tremendous weapon come playoff time. The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Bonner isn't the typical Spurs "center," but he can flat-out shoot. The pride of New Hampshire torched the Celtics for 23 points Sunday and he's connecting on 49 percent of his three point attempts this season. If Bonner can avoid becoming a defensive liability, his marksmanship will change the dynamic of games.
Second, the Lakers seem intent on proving that they can beat physical teams even without Bynum. They bullied the bullies in Boston, and against Cleveland, Lamar Odom stood tall against the Cavs' towering front line. I still have my doubts that L.A. can maintain that kind of physicality in the playoffs, but last week was a good sign.
Steve Aschburner: First, it told me that Phil Jackson sure does know how to travel. He had his crew locked in for its six-game trip, which began with Bynum as the X factor for this year's Finals and ended, well, not so much. After the big guy went down in Memphis, the Lakers were a cinch to go one of two ways: unravel over the déjà -vu disappointment or run on pure adrenaline, Jackson's guile and Kobe Bryant's iron will. Odom even got swept up in the excitement, reacquainting himself with big moments.
My views on the others didn't change much: San Antonio can still rise to the occasion, the Cavaliers aren't perfect and Boston is a bit shy of what it was, at its best, last season. Oh, and one last thing: David Stern and his schedule-maker sure know how to pounce once the Super Bowl passes.
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