Upbeat Amare Acknowledges Trade Rumors, Hits Back at ESPN
"I know about the rumors. I know what teams are looking. I know what teams want me," Stoudemire said. "I pretty much know everything -- I know what's going on. I'm definitely in the loop on what's happening."
For outside observers, what's happening is very confusing. The Suns have clearly taken a step back, but if shaking up the roster is the solution as opposed to riding things out, shouldn't moving the 26-year-old franchise cornerstone be the absolute last resort?
You'd think so, but as Stoudemire sees it, the Suns are motivated as much by their bottom-line as they are putting the best team on the floor. "I think it's all about what they want to do and what they're trying to do financially," he said. "I think their main focus is their financial intake."
The luxury tax threshold is $71.15 million this year, and the Suns are currently over that mark by $4.6 million -- in this economy, it wouldn't be a surprise at all if Steve Kerr had orders from Suns owner Robert Sarver to avoid paying the dollar-for-dollar penalty. Moving a guy like Stoudemire isn't ideal, but he's talented enough to command a package of expiring contracts and young players and picks, helping the Suns cut costs and re-load in one fell swoop.
It's a logical theory, but not one you hear mentioned too often; after all, what fun is a salary dump? Instead, TV analysts often turn to more dramatic but less tangible explanations, labeling Stoudemire selfish and not a good locker room presence -- charges Stoudemire finds particularly offensive.
"I heard Avery Johnson say one time I was a bad locker room guy or whatever," Stoudemire said. "That stuff's totally B.S. -- we get along so well inside the locker room, we hang out with each other probably more than any team in the league as far as camaraderie, as far as hanging out together. We try to enjoy ourselves."
As one reporter pointed out, several of the Suns have described Stoudemire as being one of the most social players on the team. "That's my thing, that's why I don't understand what Avery Johnson was saying or Tim Legler on NBA Shootaround when they said I was a bad locker room guy. That's not me. That's not me."
"I take pride in really keeping everybody's spirits up in the locker room, just being that guy that keeps everybody happy and smiling and having a good time," he continued. "Shaq [is] that way, as well. So with our personalities, we just enjoy ourselves. And even though we went through a bad losing streak there for a minute earlier in the season, we still stayed together, we still kept our motivation, we still had fun. We knew one day [if] we'd stay together it'd turn around."
For whatever it's worth, the fans at the Palace weren't swayed by the talking heads; instead of being heckled, Stoudemire was serenaded by fans eager to see him traded to Detroit.
"The fans definitely didn't let me forget about it," he said. "They were cheering all night, 'Stoudemire, you're coming to Detroit, we want you in Detroit, we got to have you in Detroit! We'll trade Allen and Rasheed for you!'
"I'm hearing all the rumors and all the chants, which is fun; it's good the fans are on the ball. But I'm a Phoenix Sun right now and we'll see how it plays out."
Just how will it play out? Only Steve Kerr knows at this point, but Stoudemire certainly gives the impression that he thinks he's on the move.
"It kind of reminds me of draft day when you never know what team you're going to go to and you got all the fans inside that draft [room] cheering, 'We want you in New York,' or 'We want you here,' 'We want you there!'"
Everybody wants him -- except, of course, the team that actually has him.