After a torrid start to the season, the Phoenix Suns suddenly find themselves in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. And after two losses in a row (both winnable games @ Utah and at home against Charlotte), they seem to be scratching their heads in bewilderment. The difference between their 10-1 start and their more recent 16-20 record? Defense.
Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. Phoenix has been notoriously known for its up-tempo offense and, consequently, non-existent defense. After blowing a 17 point lead in Utah, and giving up 9 straight points in OT against Charlotte, something must be done to get a more defensive minded team. My vote? Get better defensive players.
The first player to go: Amare Stoudemire. Amare has been rumored in trade talks for well over a year now, and if the Suns want to get any value for him they need to trade him before the February deadline. Otherwise, he’ll just walk after this year and the Suns will be left with nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Amare. He’s one of the most dominant big-men in the game, offensively. But with Steve Nash running the offense almost ANYONE can be dominant on offense. Take Robin Lopez for example. The second-year Lopez has scored in double figures in 6 of his last 8 games, while getting starter’s minutes.
The problem with Amare is his defense. ‘But he averages over a block per game,’ you say. Well, that’s the one or two possessions he actually plays defense. The rest of the game he just floats around. And for arguably the most athletic big-man in the NBA, Amare’s rebounding is downright poor.
If the Suns are going to make a move, they need to target defensive dominant players who have the athleticism and potential to explode offensively alongside Nash. I targeted one team in the Eastern Conference (heaven forbid we trade Amare to the Spurs or Jazz), the Chicago Bulls.
The Phoenix Suns trade Amare Stoudemire to the Chicago Bulls for Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, and James Johnson. Why I would do this trade:
1) Thomas is a defensive force that has all the skill sets that Amare does. He’s athletic and he can shoot the mid-range jumper. He’s not the FT shooter Amare is, but he has the most upside of any player in the NBA. He’s on Vinny Del Negro’s bad list and with the emergence of Taj Gibson, they would be willing to part with Thomas.
2) Kirk Hinrich would be invaluable as Nash’s backup. Especially now that Barbosa is out with injury, and Dragic developing more as a shooting guard, the Suns need another point guard. Plus, Hinrich has been rumored in various trade talks. Another piece the Bulls are willing to part with.
3) Get as much value as possible out of Amare. James Johnson has untapped talent. With Grant Hill reaching the end of his career, Johnson would be a great player to develop in the Suns system. (Johnson was the guy they wanted in the draft anyways.) If that means throwing Taylor Griffin in the trade, then so be it.
One more trade that I would love to see for the Suns, and I’m certain they would as well: Jason Richardson and Jason Collins to Golden State for Steph Curry, Andris Biedrins, and Raja Bell. This trade is far less likely, as both teams are enamored with Curry. But hey, if we’re gonna trade, lets trade!
Now whether the Suns can pull this off or not… who knows. Hopefully Steve Kerr isn’t a bonehead and trades Amare for nothing. But hey, it wouldn’t be the first time.