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NBA COAST TO COAST

At least Amare Stoudemire will be a Sun next season

February 22, 2009|Mark Heisler and Mark Heisler

At least he'll be

a Sun next season

Sometimes, the best deals are the ones the Suns don't make.

Coming to his senses, or acquiring some, just in time, Phoenix owner Robert Sarver decided not to give away Amare Stoudemire after all.

After just three days of pounding by the press over All-Star weekend, Sarver, who was calling other owners personally, asking for prospects, draft picks and expiring contracts, realized it was better to fire overmatched coach Terry Porter instead.

Voila!

Interim Coach Alvin Gentry, Mike D'Antoni's top assistant and the only one who stayed, went back to their old offense and started 3-0, averaging 140 points.

Of course, they also lost Stoudemire for the season, a punch to the gut felt all over the Valley of the Sun.

In the good news, unlike the plan they shelved, at least they'll get him back.

Shaq-LeBron: what

could have been

The biggest deal of all was the one the Suns almost made, sending Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland, which would have made the ground tremble from Lakerdom to Celtic Nation.

The Cavaliers had been all over, pursuing Stoudemire, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Marcus Camby, before eleventh-hour talks about O'Neal.

The Suns wanted Wally Szczerbiak and his expiring $13.5-million deal. Cleveland offered Ben Wallace, whose $14-million contract runs through next season, instead.

That was all between the Cavaliers and a gift-wrapped, quote-spewing, 7-1, 325-pound living legend to pair with LeBron James, even if it would have tied their hands financially after that. The Cavaliers decided they're good enough without putting it all on one roll of the dice. However their LeBron Saga turns out, it was a key moment.

Tower of babble

Trade speculation now runs at fever pitch as ESPN, Yahoo, and even NBA.com, join newspapers in the race to air/publish/post the latest hope/act of desperation/invention flashing across the brain pan of every GM/agent/reporter.

ESPN's Chad Ford even announced percentages that players would move, including Stoudemire (80%), Raef LaFrentz (65%), Szczerbiak (60%), Raymond Felton (55%), Richard Jefferson (50%), Leandro Barbosa (50%), Earl Watson (50%) and O'Neal (40%) . . . none of whom did.

Ford was just being fanciful, but with ESPN's impact, half the nation's newspapers then ran "Amare Departure Set at 80%" headlines, and started asking local team officials to comment, as if it were real.

Ford did have everyone in the right order. Next time, just divide by five.

Follow-up to last,

final TMac update

Anyone out there want a used TMac, not very cherry, but an oldie but a goodie?

Happily, Houston's Tracy McGrady opted to have microfracture surgery on his knee, ending his season, before something worse happened. . . .

Like his teammates strangling him.

McGrady was going back and forth with Ron Artest, as when Ron-Ron said their defense had to start with TMac.

Replied McGrady, a really nice guy, as accessible as he is clueless: "We're doing too much talking. . . . This is not the time to point a finger here and there on what somebody needs to do. No, we all need to step it up."

McGrady's chances of being what he was are slim, but, after making even gentlemanly Yao Ming and mild-mannered Coach Rick Adelman crazy, his chances of playing in Houston again may be slimmer.

-- Mark Heisler

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