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Amar'e Stoudemire And Free Agency: The Saga

As everyone in the known universe who remotely cares about the Suns knows, Phoenix Suns star Amar'e Stoudemire can opt out of the last year of his current contract any time before June 30 and mosey his way on in to the free agency extravaganza that is the 2010 NBA offseason.

By all accounts, this is exactly what he will do. Potential suitors include the Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, among others -- particularly if Stoudemire is open to a sign-and-trade. Amar'e has previously stated that he believes the Suns to be "Plan A," but the statement was made prior to GM Steve Kerr's departure, which may drastically affect Stoudemire's plans.

It's difficult to navigate through the smokescreens, ambiguous hints, and typical NBA front office chess matches in order to tell where Amar'e might realistically be headed next season, but one thing's for certain: the next two weeks could be two of the most important weeks in the history of this franchise. Never has the team been faced with a more critical and difficult decision regarding one of its star players.

Do they give Stoudemire the money he thinks (but not many others think) he deserves and potentially cripple the franchise's long-term financial flexibility? Or do they let him walk and face an extremely uncertain future that may include lots of losing and lots of watching Stoudemire help another team win lots of games? If the Suns retain him, will his eye or knees become a recurring Gilbert Arenas-like problem?

What happens with Amar'e Stoudemire will likely forever define Suns owner Robert Sarver's legacy. Steve Kerr and GM-in-waiting David Griffin both resigned before a decision needed to be made. Did they know something the rest of us don't?