Okay, Stoudemire's Staying With the Phoenix Suns, and so's Shaq -- at Least for the Remainder of the Season

The NBA trade deadline passed at 1 p.m. today with no Phoenix Suns players moved -- not even Amar'e Stoudemire (whose departure seemed all but a done deal last week).

Suns brass had been admitting for a month that they were entertaining trade offers for every member of the team except Steve Nash. There was huge interest in Stoudemire, but not much interest in giving the Suns enough in return for one of the top power forwards in the game.

Either nobody offered up what Suns honchos liked for Stoudemire, who was an All-Star Game starter for the first time this year, or you can believe what GM Stever Kerr's been saying: he and owner Robert Sarver want to keep the current team together -- and see what they can do -- now that the old Suns fast-paced system's been restored under interim head coach Alvin Gentry.

In other words, fired head coach Terry Porter was the problem. 

And getting rid of Porter's worked so far -- the Suns blew out the miserable Los Angeles Clippers over the past two nights -- but we'll reassess when Phoenix starts playing good teams, starting with Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics here Sunday afternoon. The Suns' next opponent's awful Oklahoma City at US Airways Center.

One of the reasons teams weren't willing to part with much for Stoudemire probably was that he hasn't, or can't, play defense. But that won't matter as much, now that the Shaquille O'Neal-dominated half-court game's been replaced with what the Suns did so well under former Coach Mike D'Antoni.

As for us, we're glad Sarver didn't pinch millions and let Stoudemire go. As we mentioned in this blog the other day, his banks have have taken $140 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds in these tough economic times. He business has got to be hurting,

This doesn't mean that Stoudemire won't be dealt in the off-season when his hefty contract is up for renegotiation. He's expected to get maximum money out of the Suns, or whoever signs him. He's making $16.3 million in 2009.

We hope the Suns hang on to STAT, now that speed's at a premium. And the way this will happen is for the Suns to not only get in the playoffs, but go deep. And they can (they've got the talent) if they continue to play with the passion they've shown in the past two games against the Clippers, where long-time Suns assistant Gentry last head-coached.

Unlike D'Antoni and certainly the hard-assed-with-little-success-to-back-it-up Porter, Gentry may be smart enough to make Shaq component work in the speed game.

The 37-year-old's in the best shape we've seen him since his L.A. Lakers days. Those outlet passes, like the one he threw to San Antonio's Tony Parker in the All-Star Game, demonstrate what a force he's capable of being on fast-breaks. Seems the massive load's not just about rattling the backboard and knocking defenders into the third row in his old age.

There was speculation that Shaq might also be dealt by the Suns, and Cleveland was interested ih him. But a deal couldn't be worked out for the aforementioned reason that the Cavs weren't offering enough.

The only other team that might want him are the Lakers (he'd make a nice addition to coach Phil Jackson's unit, with young starting center Andrew Bynum prone to injury). The Lakers speculation mounted when he and Kobe Bryant made nice as co-MVPs at the All-Star Game. Shaq's said he'd like to finish his career back in the City of Angels where he won three titles with Bryant.

As for the Suns, we sure hope they get much better, because it's been excruciating having to watch whole games to write these blog posts. Give a dude a break! 

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