No Amore for Amare

One of the questions that keeps showing up in my mailbox is whether the Blazers could, should, or would have any interest in trading for Amare Stoudemire.  Short answer:  No.  Or at least I hope not.

LaMarcus Aldridge may not be the power forward of everyone's dreams but he can play alongside Greg Oden just fine.  I don't believe Amare can do so on offense.  Amare scores 21 per game to Aldridge's 17 on roughly the same number of shots because Stoudemire draws far more foul shots than does LaMarcus.  But would that continue if he were a Blazer?  I'm willing to bet that LaMarcus could score 21 as a Sun as well.  Amare and LaMarcus both rebound about the same.  LaMarcus has a chance to be a better defender than Amare.  And LaMarcus' price tag is several million dollars less per year, plus he's younger, plus he hasn't had microfracture surgery.  There may be a few reasons to value Amare over LaMarcus but in the final balance it wouldn't be worth the cost to the Blazers.

Plus you have to factor in reports about Amare's attitude.  His production tends to fall when he's not happy.  He's not happy when he doesn't get enough touches and isn't as prominent a part of the team as he feels he deserves to be.  What spot can Portland guarantee him?  How big of a role will he play here?  If you get him you better commit to it being huge and hope that he will concentrate and merit it.

Maybe you're thinking of playing him at center instead of power forward...finding a way to trade someone else besides LaMarcus to get him.  I doubt Phoenix would accept, but even were that to happen prepare for your defense to stink.  Juwan Howard plays better D in the post than Amare does.  Teaming Stoudemire and Aldridge in the frontcourt with the current backcourt would be a defensive nightmare...and not in the good way.

Then you have to consider salary practicalities.  Stoudemire makes $16.4 million this year.  That's at least three Portland contracts...probably more if you include LaMarcus and have to compensate for his poison pill provision.  In no way am I averse to trading three guys for one but the one guy coming in has to be the exact right fit.  I'm not sure Amare qualifies.

You also have to consider reports that Amare wants to be "traded to a contender".  Maybe I'm old-school, but I'm so sick of hearing this from today's players.  There are two situations in which it's legitimate to employ that phrase.  If you're LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, clearly the best of the best in this league, and your team has utterly failed to build around you for years then I can buy in.  Alternately if you're a franchise player pushing 40 who has never won it all and you have something to give as a role player that would be valuable to a contender but doesn't help your current team much then I'm OK with the request.   You've given your prime and years of sweat and devotion to a franchise.  They can do something back for you.  But outside of those two situations "I want to be traded to a contender" is almost always code-speak for "I'm a loser."  Here's a guess:  If Amare Stoudemire used his athletic prowess to play defense anywhere above the level of a Jell-o Pudding Snack Pack he'd already be on a contender.  What's more, that contender would be willing to pay him the $62 billion he's going to be asking after this contract.  In my book that's what you do.  You look at yourself and your own play and ask if you've done everything humanly possible to make your team a contender before you ask to be traded to one.  If the answer is "No" then it's on you, not on them.  Stop casting your eyes to the horizon and start playing ball. 

The only scenario that makes sense for Portland is if they're looking at Stoudemire's contract as a massive salary dump.  But considering that they'd almost certainly have to trade away already-expiring contracts to get him that doesn't wash either.

There are reasons Phoenix is willing to part with this guy.  My prediction is that he gets his chance somewhere, somebody pays him a ton of money, and if that team happens to be a contender now he ends up making them less so by his presence.  Just make sure that team isn't Portland.  There's no reason for it.  More importantly there's no percentage in it.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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