Amare Stoudemire staying in Phoenix?

When asked whether or not he’ll make a move prior to the February trade deadline, Suns GM Steve Kerr said the following (via FanHouse)…

“I don’t think we’re going to do anything,” he said. “I’m pretty happy with this group.”

Kerr was asked if that means Stoudemire, who can opt out of his contract next summer and become a free agent, is safe from being moved.

“I’d be pretty surprised if we did anything,” Kerr said. “We’re playing well. You always want to get better and you never say never (regarding a move). But we’re playing well.”

For his part, Stoudemire says that he’s not sure that he’s going to opt out at the end of the season.

“I’m right in the middle,’ he said. “There’s no particular way I’m leaning.”

“It’s up to them to approach me about whatever situation they think, whatever they’re thinking,” Stoudemire said. “Until then, I’m just going to keep playing and keep trying to win. The ball is pretty much in their court. Whenever they’re ready to discuss anything, just let me know. If not, I’m just going to keep playing.”

What a difference winning makes. The Suns are 16-8, an impressive mark considering Phoenix has only played eight home games thus far. They’re getting good play from Stoudemire (19-8, 56% shooting), Steve Nash (18-3-11, 53%) and Jason Richardson (16-5-2, career-high 48% shooting). Grant Hill (12-6-2) and Channing Frye (12-6) round out a pretty balanced starting five.

If the Suns can keep winning, Kerr is unlikely to make any moves. I’ve been hard on him over the last couple of seasons (mainly for trading Shawn Marion and letting Mike D’Antoni slip away), but the proof is in the pudding. He realized that the Shaq trade got the Suns away from what they do best — push the ball. The Suns are running again (4th in the NBA in pace) and that style suits their personnel.

If Amare is still on the roster after the trade deadline, then it’s up to the Suns to decide whether or not they want to commit to him long term. He’s still likely to opt-out, especially if he stays healthy and continues to play well. There are too many teams with salary cap space to let an opportunity for a long-term contract pass him by.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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