PHOENIX – A year ago Friday, Shaquille O’Neal joined the Suns in what General Manager and ex-Arizona Wildcat Steve Kerr called “a gamble worth taking.”
O’Neal announced the start of The Amaré Stoudemire Project, his plan to turn Stoudemire into the NBA’s best power forward.
That team was atop the West but sought a change that would push it into more playoff success. The Suns now are clinging to a playoff position after a 4-8 stretch that has the brass more willing to gamble again with a Stoudemire deal before the Feb. 19 trading deadline.
The Suns have lost to Golden State, Chicago, Charlotte, New York, Minnesota and Indiana – all losing teams – in the past month and may be willing to lose Stoudemire in the right deal. As an All-Star starter and former All-NBA first-teamer, he carries value elsewhere while the appreciation for him locally is declining.
Wednesday night was another example of frustrations with Stoudemire. A 7-0 Suns run in the third quarter cut Golden State’s lead to 11 before coach Terry Porter reinserted Stoudemire. In 2:26, the Suns defense caved and the deficit returned to 21.
“Amaré struggled, at times, to get into the flow,” Porter said after the Suns were outscored by 21 in Stoudemire’s 28 minutes.
If the Stoudemire project is ended, there are several trade scenarios with a need for the returning salaries to be within a 25 percent difference of Stoudemire’s $15.1 million salary.
The Suns would want to inject youth (players and draft picks) into an aging roster, especially if they send off their youngest starter. The Suns also will aim for 2009-2010 luxury-tax relief by acquiring an expiring contract.
That puts these teams and players as potential pieces:
Chicago: Drew Gooden ($7.1 million).
Detroit: Rasheed Wallace ($13.7 million).
Memphis: Antoine Walker ($8.9 million).
Portland: Raef LaFrentz ($12.7 million), whose remaining salary is 80 percent covered by injury insurance.
Sacramento: Bobby Jackson ($6.1 million).
When asked earlier this week if he has worried about being traded, Stoudemire said:
“The few things that never bother me is I’m never afraid and I never worry.”
NFL Players Association appeals
SAN FRANCISCO – The NFL Players Association is appealing a federal court decision ordering the union to pay $28.1 million to retired players for allegedly cutting them out of lucrative marketing deals.
NFLPA interim executive director Richard Berthelsen told The Associated Press on Thursday that the union contends the ruling “was wrongly decided by the jurors and that there was not sufficient evidence in the record on which to base the verdict they rendered.”
A jury found in November that the union failed to include the retired players in deals with Electronic Arts Inc., the maker of the popular “Madden NFL” video game, and other companies.
The players’ association filed its appeal Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Berthelsen said a timetable has not yet been established to hear briefings on the appeal.
Attorneys for the retired players claim the union cut them out of licensing deals so active players could receive bigger royalty payments.
The union is arguing that companies paid licensing fees exclusively for active players.
Berthelsen said Thursday that several rulings made during the three-week trial, including whether the retired players involved could be recognized as a certified class, should be called into question.
He also said not enough high-profile players signed the group licensing agreement to make the list marketable.
The Associated Press
Hill needs to rebound
Re: Arizona beats Oregon State in basketball
Wow, Jordan Hill had one of his worst games under the boards tonight. Thank goodness it was in a WIN. He only had five rebounds, plus he turned the ball over four times. He was laying back and not crashing the boards plus he couldn’t handle passes to him under the boards. Hope he wasn’t hurting. We sure needed his 13 points, though. OK, it’s out of his system. He will give us a double-double against the Ducks.
• The CATS are always one-and-done on the offense. Why do they not crash the boards when someone shoots the ball. That is the reason this game was close. Defense does not mean ignore rebounding on the offensive boards!
Re: UA football recruiting
• The Pac-10 is tough. Stoops and staff did a great job these past few years recruiting kids with a chip on their shoulder and a desire to learn and execute. I love the job they’re doing! Welcome to all of our new, young Wildcats, get ready to become men! Now we need to get going on the remodeling of the stadium and add top-level facilities that will encourage more talented players to enroll. GO CATS!
• Like last year, we recruited for specific needs, and filled every one of them.
“Stars” don’t mean much, and Arizona coaches have a great eye for talent, a la Cason, Thomas, Tuitama and a whole host of kids.
ON THIS DATE
1983: Green Bay’s John Jefferson catches a touchdown pass from Dallas’ Danny White with 31 seconds remaining to give the NFC a 20-19 win over the AFC in the Pro Bowl.
2000: Randy Moss sets records with nine catches for 212 yards, and Mike Alstott scores three touchdowns in the NFC’s 51-31 victory over the AFC, the highest-scoring Pro Bowl.
2005: The New England Patriots win their third Super Bowl in four years, 24-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s their ninth straight postseason victory, equaling Vince Lombardi’s Packers.