The Nets’ plan was to build for 2010, but also be in position to do something if the unexpected happened. Something like would qualify:
Hello Rod or Hello Kiki, this is Steve Kerr.
Great weather we’re having down here in Phoenix. Make sure you take advantage of the golf courses when you come down during All-Star Weekend and check out the Camelback Mountains. By the way, we’re considering trading Amare Stoudemire and see some things on your roster that we may like. Let’s talk about it and then we’ll catch up when you come down here to see if we can make something work
It’s doubtful those were the exact words, but you get the idea. Also know this, Kerr, the Suns’ GM, had similar conversations with Detroit’s Joe Dumars, Miami’s Pat Riley’s Chicago’s John Paxson, Portland’s Kevin Pritchard and Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti.
There might be a dark horse team we’re forgetting. When you potentially make a player of Stoudemire’s caliber available you talk to just about every team and try and decide which deal makes the most sense.
The Nets are in play because they have good, young players, good contracts and draft picks. The Suns are going with a youth movement. On the block are Shaquille O’Neal and Stoudemire, who likely will be a free agent in 2010 and Phoenix doesn’t want to pay him. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be entertaining offers.
The Nets have to throw their hat in the ring, much the way if you’re Thorn and Vandeweghe, you have to listen to what teams would give up for Vince Carter.
Do the Nets’ brass want to trade their best player? No, but if the right deal comes along, that makes sense to them before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, then they have to consider it.
This is where the multi-faceted plan comes in.
When the Nets traded Jason Kidd for Devin Harris, picks and other complementary players and Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons it was clear they were building for the future.
They were trying to get as many picks, good young players on good contracts and veterans on good/expiriing contracts as possible to have the assets and flexibility to be players in 2010 when the likes of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are free.
But the Nets also did it in case a Stoudemire became available they have what it takes to get him. That’s a part of the plan that isn’t as well known.
Now, if they can get Stoudemire, my guess is Carter stays and they’re playing for now and next year with t hose two Harris and Brook Lopez making a strong nucleus. Getting Stoudemire means the Nets’ youth movement is over because they likely would have to include Yi Jianlian and Ryan Anderson in any package.
The Nets have some trepidation about moving Yi, someone they envisioned building around. They think Yi can be really good, never mind the marketing opportunities. But if you get a chance to get a superstar power forward you do everything you can.
If they can get Stoudemire, it means the Nets didn’t think they could sign James or Wade in 2010, which most know became the longest of long shots when it was clear they weren’t moving to Brooklyn by then if it all.
Those once-in-a-lifetime players are not coming to East Rutherford when they can go to New York or stay in Miami or team up in Miami. Imagine Stoudemire and Wade with the Heat, which could happen by next week, or James and Wade in South Beach.
There’s probably also some trepidation on the Nets’ part about Stoudemire’s long-range future. First, they have to determine how healthy he is and whether his surgical repaired knees can hold up. Second, would he want to stay in East Rutherford after 2010? If not, the Nets traded away some of their future and could lose Stoudemire for nothing.
The Nets aren’t close to doing anything. They’re in the exploratory stages of everything, but things could heat up this weekend in Phoenix and not just with Stoudemire. Other than Harris and Lopez, the Nets are all ears. That’s part of the plan, too.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)