NBA notes (cont.)
The Stoudemire trade that wasn't
No matter how close the Suns and Warriors seemed on the Amar'e Stoudemire blockbuster, and those semantics are open to debate, it was a long shot all along because Stoudemire was not going to give Golden State any certainty he would stay beyond one season. No certainty, no deal.
Stoudemire can miss the playoffs without leaving Phoenix, an organization and a city he likes. Though not against a trade, he is not going to commit to another team beyond 2009-10 if the destination has little chance at a championship within a season or two, people close to the situation report. In another important consideration, Stoudemire wants to remain at power forward, his natural position. The Warriors flunk both categories -- they're definitely not in contention and would need him to play center since Andris Biedrins is among those ticketed for the Suns in the proposed deal, even if labels mean nothing in the zany Don Nelson system.
Stoudemire has the hammer because he can become an unrestricted free agent after one season. If Golden State trades for him and Stoudemire bolts in the summer of 2010, it suffers a massive setback, out at least the three players it took to do the deal and then Stoudemire as well. The front office in Oakland, understandably, will need some positive feedback from Stoudemire before jumping and that isn't coming.
An extension would remove the risk. Stoudemire does not want to be a Warrior, though, and feels he can get the same megacontract in a year while also picking his destination. In the meantime, he is eligible for a new contract at any time, according to an NBA official familiar with his contract, rather than having to wait until August as previously reported.
There were no talks between the Warriors and Stoudemire or agent Charles Grantham, and those conversations would have taken place if a trade had been close. Reports persist that the Suns thought they had a deal on draft night for Biedrins, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and Stephen Curry, but that is not clear to both sides. Golden State had Curry at the top of its wish list and was surprised to see him available at No. 7. In fact, when the Timberwolves surprised everyone by taking consecutive point guards at Nos. 5 and 6, Warriors general manager Larry Riley walked around the draft room and exchanged congratulations with other ecstatic members of the personnel department and said, "We got our guy." The Arizona Republic reported the Phoenix basketball operations department likewise erupted in cheers when Curry was on the board at No. 7 and said it had the Davidson scoring machine atop the list of players to take to complete the trade.
Whether it was a major miscommunication or a classic bait-and-switch, the Warriors declared that Curry was off the table. Whatever momentum the deal had came to a halt. Golden State says it won't move Anthony Randolph or Curry, Phoenix simply can't deal Stoudemire for Biedrins, Wright and Belinelli, and there everyone sits, likely to look for new trade partners.
The decision by Joe Dumars to unexpectedly fire Michael Curry as Pistons coach reflects just as badly on Dumars as Curry. One of the top executives in the game had to know a young, inexperienced coach would have difficult moments during a rookie season, especially as a veteran roster dealt with the upheaval of the Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade and the frustration of turning into a losing team, yet Curry went from one of the brightest coaching prospects to done after one season. It would not have been so strange if the news came soon after Detroit's first-round elimination against Cleveland. Coming June 30 was strange.
On the other hand, the Spurs were the benefactors of the biggest draft-night drop: That DeJuan Blair, once considered a possibility for late in the lottery or the teens, lasted until No. 37 is an unexpected payout for a team without a first-round pick. Blair had obvious red flags as a 6-6 power forward with a history of knee problems and conditioning issues, but he is quicker than most realize, passes, sets bruising screens and will be tireless on the offense boards, a major San Antonio weakness. Said an executive in another front office: "There are an awful lot of 6-8, 6-9, 6-10 guys who aren't going to want any part of him. The bigger guys won't be happy to see him come on the court."
Still to be determined in Memphis is whether No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet and Marc Gasol can or will play together in a double-center lineup. The other option is platooning until someone wins the job outright, except that the Grizzlies have a major investment in Thabeet and need to get him minutes and have Gasol coming off an encouraging rookie season (11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds) and need to see if he turns into something special. Besides, the Grizz have an opening at power forward.
Some party. Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the Maloof family's closing on the purchase of the Kings, an occasion marked by the popularity of likable brothers Joe and Gavin Maloof in constant decline in the city they once owned and facing a greater collective crisis than any ownership group in the league. Once among David Stern's shining examples of fan support and stability, Sacramento just finished last in the league in attendance, changes coaches in fast-break fashion, has personality issues in the locker room and still can't get close to an arena deal. The last three years have seemed more like 20.
About that Yao Ming-to-Cleveland trade speculation ...
NBA Truth & Rumors