In a typical Bill Simmons gimmick, the famously infamous sports writer recently asked, "Who would say no first ..." and proceeded to toss out a fairly interesting question.
Would the Knicks trade Amare Stoudemire back to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress?
The snarky question is meant to say the Suns screwed up by not keeping Amare and are a lesser team without him, despite signing those other four guys.
I say, no.
Or at least I say, I dunno.
I don't know if the Suns are better or worse and we won't really know for another few months, at best. Regardless, I still like the moves and have no regrets, even after watching Amare drop 39 and 10 in a preseason game against the Nets.
1) Assuming Amare stayed and the Suns let Channing go in free agency and kept Lou Amundson as the defensive and rebounding bench counter to Amare's right-handed slam punch -- are the Suns better than last year?
Anyone who watched the Suns last year knows the answer to that question. Channing Frye played a huge role for Phoenix and was extremely effective coming off the bench for 20 minutes when Robin Lopez took over the starting job. Without Frye, the Suns are a much less effective team on both ends of the floor and Amare has less room to work in the lane.
2) Long-term, Amare's $100m contract is a huge risk. Hedo's $40m and the roughly combined $40m owed the other three guys doesn't come close to potentially miring the organization in a multi-year contract hell should one of Amare's uninsured body parts break down again. We've learned in sports that you risk more with one big, bad contract than four small, mediocre ones.
3) That risk is worth it IF you are VERY sure you can win a title. There is no way the Suns (even with Channing Frye) are championship contenders this season just because Amare comes back. That team is probably better than this one (with Frye), but not that much better and certainly not better than the improved Lakers, an improved Mavericks, an improved Thunder, and a possibly improved Utah team. That team in Miami will be OK and Boston and Orlando are better, as well.
We've seen what Amare can do as "the man." He has had several opportunities to put a team on his back and carry them across the line and it's not happened yet ... and it's not likely to happen now.
Just because he's now in New York and will put up some impressive regular season numbers, let's not forget that Stoudemire has never been the best guy on his own team and is simply not the player to build your next five years around.
Good luck, STAT.