About an hour after I published my post about tomorrow’s draft came the news that the Suns finally unloaded $20M in salary plus another $1M in a trade kicker to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the 46th pick (16th in the second round) in the upcoming draft, and $500K in cash. Oh yeah, the Suns included a player with the salary, Shaquille O’Neal.
We all know the Suns are saving serious money with this trade. The question, if there even is one, is whether or not Wallace and Pavlovic have a future with the Suns.
In the immediate aftermath of the Cavs crushing playoff loss to the Orlando Magic, Wallace indicated that he was seriously considering retirement as opposed to putting his body through the grind of another NBA season. This statement came when he was facing the prospect of playing for a contender. Now, Wallace is part of a team that might not even make the playoffs. Why would he even consider not retiring?
It is pretty difficult to walk away from $14M no matter how wealthy the person. It also may not be so easy for Wallace accept pennies on the dollar in a buyout. The Suns training staff have rebuilt injured players that other teams had given up on such as Antonio McDyess, Shaq, and Grant Hill. The Suns desperately need size and Wallace may have enough left in the tank for one more season. So maybe Wallace stays.
In different circumstances, Pavlovic may have had a chance to break in to the Suns rotation. He shot 41 percent from three-point range last year. And at 6-7/235, he has size for a shooting guard. But with a salary of almost $5M of which only $1.5M is guaranteed, the Suns will certainly cut Pavlovic in favor of signing one of their second round picks at a much lower salary.
And how about Amare Stoudemire?
The rumor mill suggests the Suns are not done dealing and it is possible another big trade could be made during the draft in conjunction with the Suns obtaining another first round pick. Are talks involving Stoudemire are heating up?
I am still convinced that Stoudemire is not good trade material yet. Yes, he has finally been cleared to begin exercising, but that is a long way away from proving he will be 100 percent at the beginning of the season. And as mentioned previously, what GM will trade quality players for this kind of risk?
From the Suns perspective, if they trade Amare, depending on what they receive in return they will have only one player under contract at 6-10 or taller in the form of 7-0 Robin Lopez. In comparison, the Magic start Dwight Howard (6-11), Rashard Lewis (6-10) and Hedo Turkoglu (6-10). The Lakers start Andrew Bynum (7-0), Pau Gasol (7-0) and Trevor Ariza (at a relatively puny 6-8). But the Lakers also play Lamar Odom (6-10) a lot of minutes.
C’mon, the Suns have to have a little pride, right? Is this the Suns or the Grizzlies? If they dump Amare without getting a big man in return, how can the team possibly compete at any level in this league with only one big man? I am a fan of Lou Amundson, but he is only 6-9 and clearly cannot come close to filling the void if the Suns lost both Shaq and Amare.
So the prediction is Wallace stays, Stoudemire stays, and Pavlovic goes.