What’s up with that Amare Stoudemire-to-Golden State trade?

The short answer is “I don’t know.”

Not enough? I don’t blame you. I wrote the following during my running diary on draft day:

There’s a rumor that the Warriors might send Andris Biedrins, Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright and the #7 pick to Phoenix for Amare Stoudemire. That seems like an awful lot to give up given the trades we’ve seen go down in recent days. But Stoudemire is a borderline franchise player, so a good center (Biedrins) and three prospects (Belinelli, Wright and the #7 pick) doesn’t seem crazy.

The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry when he fell to #7. At that point, it wasn’t clear whether or not he’d be headed to Phoenix as part of this trade. Paul Coro of AZCentral.com reported that he “likely” was headed to the Suns.

Golden State’s selection of Davidson point guard Stephen Curry at No. 7 was likely made for the Suns as part of an Amaré Stoudemire trade that can’t be completed until Wednesday. That is because Phoenix would be acquiring Warriors center Andris Biedrins, a base-year compensation player, as part of a Stoudemire deal that would include more Warriors players, possibly power forward Brandan Wright and/or shooting guard Marco Belinelli.

The Suns were hoping they could land Curry or Arizona power forward Jordan Hill with the Warriors’ seventh pick but had their choice after Minnesota took neither with its fifth and sixth picks.

The next day, Coro reported that the deal was all but done, but hinged on whether or not Curry was included…

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Trying to make sense of the Timberwolves’ first two picks

Probably the most perplexing sequence of events occurred early last night when the Minnesota Timberwolves picked Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn — two pure point guards — with back-to-back picks. My first instinct was that GM David Kahn (Kaaaaaaaaaahn!) was working out a trade for one of the guards, possibly moving Rubio to the Warriors or Knicks or some other team for a pick and/or veteran help. But then Ric Bucher popped his head in to inform us that Kahn said that he plans to play Rubio and Flynn together. Later on, Kahn mentioned a few examples of point guard duos that have played well in the past, citing Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge, and…gulp…Michael Jordan and John Paxson.

Setting aside the Jordan/Paxson comparison for a moment, let’s look at the other two examples. DJ and Ainge were both 6’4″ combo guards and neither guy had to have the ball in his hands to be effective. I don’t think the same will be said about Rubio or Flynn (certainly not Rubio). Dumars was 6’3″ defensive stopper and deadeye shooter, while Zeke was a ball-dominant playmaker. In short, Thomas was a pure point guard, while Dumars, Ainge and DJ were combo guards. Those backcourts worked because the two players complemented each other.

But back to Jordan/Paxson — if I’m a Timberwolves fan and I hear that my general manager is referring to Michael Jordan as a point guard, I’m getting out on the ledge. MJ was a 6’6″ wing, who could do everything — handle, shoot, post up and play defense. He was more of a 2/3 who could run the point if necessary. If Kahn really thinks that he was a point guard, then that shows an alarming lack of basic knowledge about the game.

But that’s not the only reason the comparison is invalid. A general manager should not be invoking Jordan’s name when discussing his first few picks in the draft. He is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game, so it’s not fair to expect your rookies to do the same things he did. Any backcourt that featured Jordan would have worked. He was that good.

Once Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden and Tyreke Evans were off the board, I thought for sure the T-Wolves would take a point guard (Rubio or Flynn) and Stephen Curry, who is a smallish combo guard that can shoot the lights out. If you want to run him at off guard, you need to pair him with a pure point guard to set him up. A Flynn/Curry or Rubio/Curry backcourt would have had a real chance at working. Rubio/Flynn would serve as the playmaker, while Curry’s shooting would create space for Al Jefferson and Kevin Love to work in the post. Defensively, a backcourt like that would have its share of problems, but at least it would make sense on the other end of the court.

I just don’t think a Rubio/Flynn backcourt will work. Both players are ball-dominant and neither guy shoots the ball very well. Rubio isn’t strong enough to cover most opposing shooting guards and Flynn isn’t tall enough to cover big guards on the block. Throw in the fact that Rubio doesn’t sound too thrilled about the prospect of playing in Minnesota, and Kahn might have one big mess on his hands.

Here is some more commentary about Minnesota’s first two picks…

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NBA Rumors: Stoudemire, T-Mac, Brand and more draft talk

T-Mac for Amare?

According to the same source that disclosed Terry Porter was about to be fired as Suns coach, the Rockets are leaning toward swapping Tracy McGrady’s expiring $22M contract, Carl Landry and Aaron Brooks for Leandro Barbosa and Stoudemire, who owns an escape clause after next season and is demanding an extension this summer to waive it.

I’m not sure what the upside is for the Suns. Stoudemire will likely opt out of his contract after the season, so they aren’t gaining any financial flexibility. They do get a couple of good young players (Landry and Brooks), but is that really enough? McGrady is a very good player when healthy, but he can’t seem to stay upright.

This would be a bold move for the Rockets, but it would leave them awfully thin at point guard. Kyle Lowry would be the only experienced PG on the roster, but Houston could use its mid-level exception to go out and get a veteran like Andre Miller or Mike Bibby, though the MLE may not be enough.

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Take my overpaid star…please!

Memphis GM Gerald Wallace took a lot of heat for trading Pau Gasol to the Lakers. But if we’ve learned anything in the past few days, it’s that Wallace was simply a man ahead of his time.

On Tuesday, we learned that the Bucks agreed to trade Richard Jefferson to the Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Amir Johnson. (Fabricio Oberto was part of the original deal, but San Antonio sent him to Detroit for Johnson, who was then sent to Milwaukee.)

Regular readers know I’m a Bucks fan, and I spent the last couple of days grumbling on the Sports Bubbler message boards about how we didn’t get anything in return for Jefferson, who is still a pretty good player. When Wallace traded away Gasol, at least he got Javaris Crittenton (who was considered a prospect with upside at the time) and Pau’s brother, Marc, who turned out to be a productive center for the Grizzlies.

Then I wake up today to see that the Cavs and Suns have agreed to go through with that long-rumored trade that will send Shaq to Cleveland for salary cap relief. Who do the Suns get in return? A retiree (Ben Wallace), a bench player with a partially guaranteed contract (Sasha Pavlovic), some cash and a second round pick.

This is the going rate for a Third Team All-NBA center these days.

We knew that this summer had the potential to be a rough one for free agents, but it’s a little surprising to see that good players like O’Neal and Jefferson could be had for virtually nothing. Bucks owner Herb Kohl and Suns owner Robert Sarver realize that their clubs aren’t legitimate contenders, so they don’t see the point in paying the luxury tax just for the privilege of being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. What kind of an effect these moves have on season ticket purchases remains to be seen.

The bottom line is that if a team is willing to spend, there has never been a better time to acquire talent. You’re not going to get someone like Caron Butler, who plays for a (pretend) contender and has a reasonable contract, but you can get Jefferson, who is overpaid and is on a mediocre team that is up against the luxury tax. And the older the player, the more likely he’s available. Teams aren’t going to give up good players that are in their early- or mid-twenties because the plan is to rebuild before they’re over the hill.

So who might be on the move for a bag of peanuts and some salary cap flexibility? How about Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Vince Carter, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Jermaine O’Neal, Michael Redd, Ray Allen or Rip Hamilton?

Truth be told, a team like the Suns isn’t going to give the youngish Stoudemire away for cap flexibility alone. But as the price of a star goes down, the price of superstar goes down as well.

It promises to be an interesting summer.

NBA Rumors: Rondo available, Charlie V to the Cavs, and more

Rajon Rondo is available. Wait, no he’s not.

While there has been talk around the NBA from several scouts that the Celtics have been shopping guard Rajon Rondo, he isn’t expected to be dealt. While unlikely, one Eastern Conference executive said the latest trade rumor included Rondo and forward Brian Scalabrine going to Memphis for guard Mike Conley and swingman Rudy Gay. On the flip side, one NBA GM said that he asked Celtics president Danny Ainge about Rondo and Ainge said he didn’t want to trade him.

Chad Ford had this to say

I’m more persuaded by what several league sources told me about Doc Rivers’ relationship with Rondo. They say Rivers has told them Rondo is “impossible to coach” and “stubborn.” The worry is that if the Celtics give him a big contract extension next year, he’ll be even more unmanageable in the future. So the Celtics are trying to trade him now, while his trade value is high, to avoid a very difficult decision a year from now.

While it’s true that his stock has never been higher, the proof is in the pudding. If the Celtics can keep their core — Garnett, Pierce, Ray Ray and Rondo — healthy for the playoffs, they have a great shot at winning another title. Why break that up?

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