The marquee topic on this week's Writers' Roundtable centers on Amaré Stoudemire and whether the Suns should trade him.
After watching the Suns mail it in Monday against the 76ers, suffering their second-worst defeat of the season against a team struggling to stay above .500, I'd have to recommend the move.
A total overhaul might not be the worst option for a team whose best chances for an NBA title may have left town with Mike D'Antoni. Since the offensive guru departed the desert for Gotham, the Suns have regressed from fast-paced trendsetters to a team without much of an identity under Terry Porter. (The jettisons of Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw and Raja Bell didn't exactly help matters.)
Phoenix has dropped nine of its past 15 games to slip down to eighth place in the crowded Western Conference, clinging to the bottom rung of the postseason ladder. Steve Nash is 35. Still playing at a high level, sure, but past his peak. Shaquille O'Neal, the team's second-leading scorer after Stoudemire, has moved into the twilight of his career despite his renaissance season at 36. Grant Hill, also 36, has performed admirably at the three -- but you're always wondering when the other shoe's going to drop with the former Duke star.
The worrisome pieces outnumber the attractive ones, a truth which became evident yesterday in South Philly as the young Sixers outworked and outclassed Phoenix. Leading the way with a career-high 24 points for the hosts was first-year post man Marreese Speights, whom Philadelphia chose with the No. 16 pick in the June draft -- one selection after the Suns took deep reserve Robin Lopez.
Phoenix's best bet? Capitalize on the seller's market and trade Amare for the best offer. The cost-conscious Suns probably can't avoid paying the luxury tax on their $75 million payroll for the 2008-09 season -- but clearing up cap space for the 2010 free-agent swap meet should be the ultimate goal.
What do you think?
Roundtable: Time to deal Amaré? [SI.com]