Memo to Pax: Just say “No” to Amare


If you can believe the NBA rumor mill, the Phoenix Suns have apparently jammed a “Yard Sale” sign in front of Amare Stoudemire’s locker. It seems that Suns GM Steve Kerr has finally realized that, despite Amare’s wicked-awesome talent and immense athleticism, he’s still a big man without a post move who couldn’t protect the paint (short of the occasional high-flying swat) if his team’s playoff chances and a $100 million contract extension were on the line. (And they are.)

Huh. An athletic power forward who can’t defend at his position (or at center) and would rather shoot face-up jumpers than execute a move in the low post? We already have that guy. His name is Tyrus Thomas. Look, Amare may be an All-Star — who despite intense lobbying via an Internet marketing campaign barely beat out Bruce Bowen for a starting spot on the Western Conference squad, by the way — but he’s basically an older and much more expensive version of a player the Bulls already have on their roster. And then there’s that whole “his knee was reconstructed through microfracture surgery” thing. I know he’s become something of a poster boy for recovery from that particular procedure, but still…it certainly isn’t going to extend his career.

But let’s forget for a second whether it’s a good move and ask the more immediate question: Could it happen? The Suns want three things in return for Stoudemire: A salary dump, promising young talent (since they don’t have any of their own) and some draft picks. As it happens, Chicago can offer all that. The Bulls have almost $9 million worth of expiring contracts in Drew Gooden (who isn’t even playing) and Cedric Simmons (ditto). Joakim Noah and Thomas (and maybe even Thabo Sefolosha) are the young and talented. And John Paxson could probably be convinced to toss in some draft picks (lottery-protected, of course).

So yes, it could happen. But it really, really shouldn’t. If, you know, Pax wants to actually improve the team. Stoudemire is a random numbers generator, no doubt about it, but he’s not the answer to any of Chicago’s most pressing concerns. The Bulls need a stopper in the paint. Amare can’t (or won’t) do that. They also need somebody who can score with his back to the basket. Amare won’t (or can’t) do that either. He also tends to sulk and stop rebounding when he’s not the number one option on offense. Sounds like a lose-lose-lose proposition to me.

Then there’s the little problem of keeping him around even if we can trade for him. Stoudemire’s contract includes a clause that would allow him to opt out after next season. You’d better believe that he’s going to do it…and then ask for a huge raise. He’ll no doubt be seeking one of those max-outs that go for about six years and over $100 million. That’s what I like to call a cap killer over at Basketbawful. Imagine watching him average 16 points and 7 rebounds after Pax decided to pay him $20 million per  year. Wouldn’t that make you want to drink until you couldn’t feel feelings anymore?

Look, in the summer of 2006, Paxson signed Ben Wallace to a $60 million contract that wrecked the team’s salary flexibility and eventually forced a trade for Larry Hughes. In doing so, he gave up on (and subsequently traded away) Tyson Chandler, even though Tyson was younger and could do pretty much everything Big Ben could do…and for less money.  Now, Tyson is an All-Star-caliber center (when healthy) and Wallace has one foot in his NBA grave. As blunders go, that was big. Paxson now stands to make the same mistake by potentially dealing Thomas — whom the Suns would almost certainly demand in any trade for Stoudemire — plus other valuable team commodities. Here’s hoping John learned his lesson.

On the other hand, if the Suns are interested in Larry Hughes…

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27 Responses to Memo to Pax: Just say “No” to Amare

    MSquared February 9, 2009 at 4:56 am #


    I’m all for looking in to Chris Bosh (and it would be smart for Toronto to get at least something in return for him because he’s totally bolting in a year and a half), but Amare is exactly what this team doesn’t need.

    Victor February 9, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    This is exactly why I can’t stand Stoudemire. He has all the tools to be a dominant big man and thinks he should be considered one of the the best big men (if not the best) in the league, but he won’t do things like box out, pay attention on defense, or learn how to score in the low post. Remember when Stoudemire was still playing center last year? Al Jefferson averaged 30-15 in 4 games against the Suns while Dwight Howard averaged 30-20 in 2 games. Phoenix should have traded Mr. Stoudemire for KG when they had the chance.

    PT from Oaktown February 9, 2009 at 5:14 pm #

    Yep, Somehow, I don’t see him doing what we need, his stats are impressive, but a big guy that doesn’t average high rebounds you have to worry about. He is just a guard trapped in a power forwards body. I think we should let it go. This is not the answer, If we keep the expiring contracts doesn’t that then help our cap situation? If so, just bury Gooden and Hughes on the bench and keep rolling with the current lineup, they are playing better, way better then a month ago. Not great but better and it at least looks like people are trying now. Kirk off the bench, with Noce is sweet. Lets keep are cards in place till the Lebron/Wade/Bosh stakes I think we will have a shot to get someone good in that summer. But, I know Amare isn’t the answer.

    Kevin February 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    I agree.
    I don’t know if you’ve read :07 Seconds Or Less, but in the book it seemed as if Stoudemire was cancer for the team just sitting on the bench…

    FM February 9, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    I completely disagree with this! Amare is no Ben Wallace in any sense of the word. He can play on both ends of the floor and is still young. I would like to know who would be the number one offensive option on the Bulls over Amare if he came here. Deng? Rose? Rose will distribute and the pieces will fall into place as they should. Tyson Chandler is not an All-Star even when healthy. You liked the mirage last year? Before the injury he was back to 8 and 9. No thank you. Noah… talented? Come on! You wanna compare Ben Wallace to someone here is your guy. Dude has got worse offensive game than Big Ben! Even mentioning Thabo is a crime if you’ve seen him on the offensive end of the floor. Sure, it would definitely be sad to give up a guy like Tyrus the way he has picked up his game and obviously dedicated himself to improving but sometimes you gotta pull the trigger. Pax may have learned his lesson with Big Ben but did he also learn his lesson by not pulling the trigger on Gasol? Or would that have been another bad move? I’ll take Amare here, where he’ll be appreciated and play like it. And I’ll take his 16 and 7 in 10 years… when he is 36…

    Mike C. February 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    i’m curious if the tyson chandler that you refer to as “all-star caliber” is the same one i’ve watched play for years. tyson’s a fine player and a good fit in new orleans; an all-star he is not.

    Matt McHale February 9, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    MSquared — I’d definitely be interested in Bosh, depending on the price. Of course, there are all those rumors that he secretly agreed with D-Wade to go somewhere together…but, regardless, you’re right. He’s not likely to stay in Toronto.

    Victor — Yeah. His lack of defense is obviously the biggest concern. And it’s so hard to fathom. He’s an athletic freak. He should be able to stop just about anybody, but instead he gets walked over (or around). That may work in some systems, but it won’t work for the Bulls.

    PT from Oaktown — Agreed. We might as well sit on our expiring contracts and let our young guys develop, unless we were somehow able to deal for something we really needed.

    Kevin — I have read “:07 Seconds or Less” and I did pick up on the slight Amare bashing. The deal with him seems to be that he feels he’s an MVP who’s being held back. Or he did back then, anyway. He’s saying all the right things now that the trade rumors have surfaced, but you can tell he’s not 100 percent focused when he’s not involved offensively. Scoring, obviously, is great, but his defense and on-again, off-again rebounding is what bothers me.

    FM — Amare obviously has more left in him now than Big Ben did when we got him. But he can’t creat his own offense, hasn’t developed any go-to low post moves, and I’m sorry to disagree, but he doesn’t play both ends of the floor. He gets pushed aside or walked around on defense. He loses focus when he’s not getting his shots. Not that those aren’t things that we might be able to work with (or work around), but Tyrus does a lot of the same things. I’d rather develop him than tie up $20 million per year in cap room for Amare when it’s clear he’s far less productive outside of a run-and-gun offense. And Rose, at this stage of his career, and within Vinny’s offense, wouldn’t be spoon-feeding him the way Nash has.

    Oh, no, Pax totally should have gone after Gasol. That was a blown opportunity. But while he’s soft on D, he has proven low post skills, and that’s on Paxson’s wish list. Amare really doesn’t offer anything that would make us radically better. I just feel what has happened to Shawn Marion in Miami would happen to Stoudemire here.

    Mike C. — That’s the guy. Unless you missed it, he led the league in offensive rebounds the past two seasons and was ranked third in total rebounds. Oh, and we’ve been all excited about Thomas getting five double-doubles in six games…well, Tyson has averaged a double-double over two seasons with New Orleans. He’s also shot around 62 percent, mostly on dunks and putbacks, but those count for the same number of points as Ty’s jumpers.

    One of the best rebounders in the league, one of the highest shooting percentages in the league, averaging a double-double. Yeah, I’d qualify that as All-Star-caliber. And if you don’t agree, why don’t you go compare those stats to Ben Wallace’s numbers during HIS All-Star seasons. And Big Ben benefited from the Pistons’ system just as much as Ty is benefiting from playing with Chris Paul.

    AK Dave February 9, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    Amare without Nash will be worse than Marion without Nash, and we all saw what happened when Marion left Phoenix because he was “disrespected” and wanted to be “the man”.

    It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again because it sounds so awesome: HOW’S THAT WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA, SHAWN???

    Amare cannot create his own shot. I’ll repeat that because it’s important. Amare cannot create his own shot! He gets those monster dunks because Nash has eyes in the back of his head and can find him even when there are 7 bodies in the paint. In Chicago: not gonna happen. I think the Tyrus comparison is spot-on, and if Phoenix had Thomas, they might even get similar production out of him as they got from Amare, because they have a PG who makes everybody look like all-stars. Chicago needs a guy who can get the ball down low and DO SOMETHING with it, like a Duncan, Pao Gasol, or (gasp) Shaq.

    If you ask me, Chicago would do better by going after the OTHER big man who’s up for sale in PHX- the Shaqtus himself. Of course if he goes to the Windy City, do we then call him… the big Windbag? The big Bag of Bull? We shall see!

    Mike C. February 9, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    tyson’s PER in his last two seasons has barely been over 17; i realize PER doesn’t tell the entire story but it’s a pretty good place to start. and in wallaces all star caliber years (i’m not convinced he really ever should’ve been an all-star; some pesky hang up i have about guys who can’t average 10 points a game being an all star), he averaged over 3 blocks per game while tyson has never even averaged 2 blocks per game for a season. and big ben averaged 13.2, 13.0, and 15.4 boards his 3 “all star caliber” seasons in detroit, which is better than chandler’s 12 boards per game. furthermore, the east was notoriously weak in big ben’s years, compared to the plethora of talent that is now in the west; to be an “all-star caliber” player in the west now and in the past 2 years, i would think you’d have to be a top 15 player in the west. there’s no way tyson chandler was a top 15 player in the west last season.

    Marin February 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm #

    @AK Dave
    I’m sorry, but Amare can create his own shot. In fact, he’s one of the most skilled offensive big men in the league. He has a reliable mid-range jumper, decent handles, and is one of the best ‘garbage bucket’ finishers in the league. Of course having Nash there helps him, but so should having Rose.

    His defense is atrocious, and he’s probably a cancer, but I think it’s silly to say he can’t create his own shot. If anything, he’s too concerned about creating his own shot.

    Brian February 9, 2009 at 8:42 pm #

    I agree with some of the article, but I think what you missed out on was the fact that Noah,we are praying, would not be packaged if tyrus was. If this is the case it puts amare at a 4(PF) position. He will not often have to guard howard or any other center, and someone please take into consideration he has learned defense in an uptempo, offense oriented setting as well as having the misfortune of never having good big man defensive help(shaq 09 is not shaqderific!) and the one of the weakest point guard defenders of all time. Phoenix, how about a strong defensive guard to go along Nash?

    Matt McHale February 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm #

    Mike C. — You can go back and find plenty of All-Stars with PERs that are around 17. Rasheed Wallace is a perfect example: The PERs from his last two All-Star seasons were 17.6 and 17.2. Eddie Jones made it once with a PER of 17.3. Glenn Robinson made it in with a 17.8. Oh, and that Ben Wallace guy was an All-Star for four straight seasons, and his PER was between 17.2 and 17.5. So would you agree that there’s a precendent for some All-Stars to have a PER of 17-ish?

    Also, Ben was an All-Star from 2003 through 2006. His rebounding numbers were: 15.4, 12.4, 12.2 and 11.3. So only in one of his All-Star seasons did he board that much better than Tyson has. Your point about the shot blocking is spot-on, but Ben’s shooting was down in the 40s for all but one of his All-Star campaigns, whereas Tyson’s has been in the 60s.

    Based on past comparisons and the fact that he’s one of the best rebounders and field goal percentage shooters in the league, I would rate Tyson as All-Star-caliber. He won’t make the team, because there are too many guys at his position who are better, but he’s got the numbers of a lower-level All-Star. The past two seasons, anyway.

    Marin — Amare can create shots only when he’s facing a big man who’s slower than he is, because that allows him to threaten the drive, which opens the jumper. But he has nothing in the post. His balance and fundamentals on post ups are terrible, considering his status as an elite big man.

    Brian — The problem is that Amare has struggled even when the Suns have slowed things down. His one-on-one defense is bad, against anybody in any situation. The blame for that can’t be laid on Nash or the lack of another defense-oriented big man. What it comes down to, more than anything, is that STAT has poor defensive fundamentals (in terms of footwork and body positioning), lack focus and, frankly, hasn’t shown that he WANTS to be a top-notch defender. Playing defense is more about desire and concentration than anything else.

    Brank Manderbeak February 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    I think there could actually be a reasonable contingency plan if the Bulls were to acquire Amare. And that is, we could possibly flip him for Chris Bosh. Picture it, Amare gets sent to Chicago around the deadline; that gives us a year or so to decide whether he works out or not. If so, awesome; if not, we could package him with one of our vets (Nocioni or Hinrich, as the Raps need help on the wings and a second ACTUAL PG on their roster), a young player (Noah, probably), and draft picks for Bosh and salary balast. I think getting Amare first would definitely make it easier to trade for Bosh, as we could actually offer the Raps almost equal value (or at least hope they see it that way). Hopefully Bryan Colangelo had a positive impression of Stoudemire from his Phoenix days.

    AK Dave February 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    @ Marin,

    Matt already touched on this, but if Amare could manufacture his own shot, then he would have a signature move. Every superstar has a shot in his arsenal that is indefensible one-on-one. Dirk has a fadeaway, LeBron can take anyone off the dribble, Ginobili drives to the left and hooks it over his defender and off the glass (then flops and gets to shoot free-throws), Duncan has the face-up jumper high off the glass, Kobe has (among many other things) the step-back J, Wade has the cross-over dribble etc etc etc.

    Amare has that jab-step, pull-up mid-range jumper that, as Matt pointed out, only seems to work on lumbering bigs, not so well against, say, Rasheed or KG or anyone who won’t give him a 6-foot cushion to prevent him from driving.

    Other than that, I’d say his signature move is a catch-and-dunk from Nash when he trails a play and everyone is guarding against a Nash layup. I just don’t even have a picture of Amare in my head that doesn’t involve a pass from Nash. Every one of his highlight reel dunks is off a feed from somebody it seems.

    I respect your opinion, but I just don’t feel like Amare has that indefensible, you-know-it’s-coming-but- still-can’t-stop-it move that distinguishes him. Can you think of one?

  15. Adam February 9, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    The Bulls absolutely need Amare… their main problem is they don’t have a big man that can score every night. Well, Amare brings that to the table, he he athletic and strong enough to throw it down on anyone in the league and and developed a very consistent mid-range jumper. Just think about Amare, Deng, and Rose all on the floor together… the Bulls would have their Big 3!

    Ross February 9, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    Make the move. Deal Thomas, Selfalosha and Gooden. As a result, you’re in the playoffs and competing for the next couple of years where you’ll ample time to decide his value or if you’d rather go after Bosh. The biggest loss is Thomas who is at least 2 years from devolping into a player than can be significant to a playoff team. Sefalosha falls into that same box.

    Robin February 9, 2009 at 11:16 pm #

    Honestly, I think this post is kind of crazy. Granted, I don’t watch the Bulls that much, but I’m left wondering, what better big man do you hope to get? Ty Thomas? In his 3rd year, he is scoring 9.4 per game. As a rookie out of high school Amare was scoring 13.4, and in his 3rd year was scoring 26. Ty Thomas will never come close to Amare offensively, and if the Bulls want to be good they need a serious offensive threat in the frontcourt.

    And what is this concern with finding a pure post player? Maybe Rose is not a polished distributor at this point, but would you really rather have him shooting jumpers off of passes out of the post? Rose is not a floor-spacer, he is a creator, and I’m sure Amare would be happy to have Rose create scoring opportunities for him. And can you imagine those guys on the break?

    The only thing that would give me a reservation about this trade from the Bulls’ side is the two players’ timetables. Ideally you would want a big guy whose prime coincides exactly with Rose’s. But the chances of getting someone like that on Amare’s level are extremely slim. There’s definitely going to be enough overlap in the two players’ primes to justify this trade.

    You can find good defensive big men. But guys who can score 25+ points on 55%/80% shooting do not grow on trees. You can do a hell of a lot worse than an offense built around Derrick Rose and Amare Stoudemire.

  18. Fire Porter February 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    Did you just compare a 2007 All-NBA First Team player to Tyrus Thomas??

    Just checking.

    Matt McHale February 10, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Brank Manderbeak — Hm. I wouldn’t hate it if that happened, I suppose…

    AK Dave — Obviously I agree with you, and your point is well put. He doesn’t have a go-to move of any kind. Unless you count the pick and roll with Nash.

    Adam — While I do agree that the Bulls need a scoring big man, I’m just not sure Amare really fills those needs. I mean, I’m not sure where his points are going to come from in this offense. He does have a fairly strong mid-range game, but minus the setups he gets in Phoenix and sans an actual post move, I think he’d really struggle to get 20 a night. And for that reason, I don’t think he’s worth the price tag.

    Ross — I’m not sure Amare makes this team a slam-dunk for the playoffs. Unless he’s got some untapped potential we haven’t seen, particularly on the defensive end.

    Robin — I would think the thing that should give you reservations about the trade would be the possibility of Amare opting out after next year and either leaving the Bulls with nothing — other than losing some potentially quality players — or tricking Pax into giving him a max deal he won’t be able to live up to. And in this case, it’s not even the quality of the big man per se that I’m looking for, but rather someone to fill specific needs. Paxson has shown that he’ll spend money, but he’s signed or acquired players who don’t have what the team needs. Right now, their biggest problem, to be honest, is their terrible interior defense. Do you realize that Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace, Nick Collison, Zaza Pachulia and several other terrible big men have scored season-highs against us? I don’t see Amare stopping that. And frankly, I don’t trust him to suddenly start scoring 26 a game here. Rose isn’t the same kind of creator Steve Nash is.

    Fire Porter — Yep. And I’m not saying that Tyrus is better, by any stretch of the imagination, simply that he’s a better value per dollar than Amare.

    Loop February 10, 2009 at 5:31 am #

    Matt, spot on. Remember a couple years back when the Bulls we supposed to be the team to beat in the east? They got there with no big men that could score, but (as has become painfully evident this year) big men that could bang down low and play defense. P.J. Brown, Othella Harrington, even Ben Wallace at times; they played tough defense, something that is critical for big me to play.

    Amare is a sexy (sadly the best word that fits here) lure after years of Bulls fans watching the team fail to pull the trigger, but like a Vegas stripper he’s only going to leave you unsatisfied and broke.

    EDP February 10, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    I have watched almost every single Suns game in the last 5 years and I would say Matt is exactly right about Amare. I wish the Suns could have traded him for Jason Richardson. I have no doubt their line-up would have been awesome(if they went back to using Diaw correctly) and the negativity would have been gone.

    Big Reese February 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    You are waaaaay offf. In did not want Big Ben Initially I knew what he was and always thought it was a bad trade, but Amare is a whole diffrent animal. First ;ets look at what phoenix did you have a 25 year old stud who is your number one offeneive option in the paint and you make him take a secondary role to an ageing superstar. That is the source of drama in Phoenix. how could he possibly get the same rebounds with Shaq clogging up the paint. as far as us needing a defensive stopper funny I thought low post scoring was what bulls fans had been crying about for the past five years. He will rebound, he will score, and he will go to the basket aggresively and consistantly all elements this team has been missing for some time. Oh and by the way Tyson Chandler would be nothing without Chris Paul and if they trade him you will see that. Stop writing you don’t have the knowledge base you sound foolish.

    Baguete February 10, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Gotta agree with AK Dave about Amare moves.

    I dont think Phoenix will trade with Chicago, cause the Suns wont get someone to contribute right away and push the team for a ring. Bringing Tyrus and cia. will only be a sad ending to Shaq, Nash and Hill’s careers.

    Its more likely a trade with Miami (Marion/Beasley would be great), Detroit (Sheed and somebody else) or no trade at all.

    But, more important is to FIRE PORTER whatever ending this story has. The guy is just clueless about coaching…

    RandomGuy February 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    Amare has that jab-step, pull-up mid-range jumper that, as Matt pointed out, only seems to work on lumbering bigs, not so well against, say, Rasheed or KG

    Looking at ESPN’s ’07-’08 splits, Boston held Amare to an average of 30 points, and Detroit held him to an average of 32 points. Maybe there were other factors at work–possibly KG and Rasheed were hurt. I didn’t look any deeper than the splits.

    Mark February 10, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    My question is, how do you get those sweet purple Jordan’s?

    As for the trade, I’d think we are giving up too much for a guy who is essentially a more mature (playing-wise) Tyrus Thomas. TT is only in his third year and made a pretty big jump this year, especially as of late. If he can get a little bigger, improve his jump shot, and shot selection. Stoudemire is in his 7th year (plus microfracture surgery) and hasn’t really improved over the years. Besides his rookie year, he has been consistently in the 20-26 point/8-9 rebound range but hasn’t improved those numbers over the years. Plus, you have to factor in the inflated #’s in the D’Antoni system as his stats are down this year.

    I’d hate to see Tyrus go and then have him average 15/12-ish next year…which I think is possible.

    AK Dave February 10, 2009 at 11:35 pm #


    I didn’t say that Amare can’t score if KG or ‘Sheed is on him- I only said that he can’t score 1-on-1 in an isolation play if he is being defended by them. How many of those 30 points were scored off Nash assists? (I’d bet at LEAST 50%)

    Unfortunately there are no statistics that show how many points he scores “by himself”, but as I DID point out, the guy has no go-to move, and if you know of one, please let me know.


    The point you make about Chandler and Paul is the exact same point everybody on the planet is making about Amare and Nash. And you’re right- CP3 makes Chandler look like an all-star, just like Stevie makes Amare (and Marion before him) look like an all-star. Take away Nash, and Amare is Tyrus Thomas with a better mid-range game but not a single post move and not as good of a shot-blocker.

    All of this begs the question: why the hell couldn’t Amare just learn a post move this past off season? How hard is it to get some position, call for the ball, take one or two crab dribbles, turn and shoot or take a hook-shot? Really? How hard is that? Gary Payton and Marc Jackson could do it, and they were freakin’ guards. Don’t tell me he can’t learn a damn post move- this is laziness IMO.


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