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.)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vince Carter is not in Shaquille O’Neal’s class.
You can take any way you want, but from a health standpoint Carter is much better off than his good friend Shaq. It could be that Carter is about 100-150 pounds lighter than Shaq.
“Yeah, or 200,” Carter joked.
The comparison came up today because Shaq takes some back-to-back games off to keep his body right.
“I’m on my way,” Carter said. “I’m on my way. I’m not quite 39, 40 or how ever old Shaq is.”
Shaq turns 37 in March. Carter will be 32 in less than two weeks. But the biggest thing is neither is playing their age. Shaq is playing his best ball in years, averaging 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds and Carter has been terrific, despite being a little banged up.
He had a hip injury earlier in the week and hurt his ankle in Wednesday’s loss at Boston. He was 1-for-10 that night and 4-for-14 in Thursday’s loss to Portland, but Carter said it’s improved.
“It actually feels better today than it did the last two days,” Carter said.
The Nets hope he feels even better tomorrow when they try to avenge their 32-point loss to the Celtics at home. Carter wouldn’t blame his bad shooting on his injury, but it probably played a part.
It’s no secret when Carter plays well and hits big shots, the Nets have a much better chance to win. The Nets haven’t had big games from Carter and Devin Harris together in a while, but Harris has missed 3½ games recently.
Maybe that changes tomorrow, especially if Carter feels better and Harris’ pride kicks in after he was outplayed the other night by Rajon Rondo.
They need this game, too. They’ve lost two straight and after playing Boston, they’re go to New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis and Oklahoma City. So, this could turn into a long losing streak if the Nets aren’t careful.
But one good thing for the Nets has been Carter’s positive attitude through bad times and his desire to play through pain. He wants to play all 82 games.
“I pride myself on it,” Carter said. “That’s what I want to do, especially being one of the older guys and I see all these young guys falling down like flies.
“You always hope you can last. I try to play through some of the pain and injuries that I have. Sometimes [trainer] Timmy [Walsh] is like, ‘Hey, let’s be smart about it.’ I’m like I’m being smart. I want to go out there and play.
“I just try to take care of my body. It’s always a little luck out there. I’ve been fortunate.”
The Nets have been, too.
Carter saw the U.S. Airways flight 1549 crash land into the Hudson River from his Weehawken bedroom window. Carter still was in awe today.
“It’s not something you expect to see out of your window,” he said. “I’m not one that’s looking out the window every day and the day I decide to there’s a plane landing in the Hudson. It was one of those things you never forget.”
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.).