With news yesterday that the Sixers were batting the yarn about possibly asking the Knicks if they're willing to trade their Fruit Roll-up for the Sixers' Twix, there have been two outcries heard loud and clear. One from the, ahem, more clearly-thinking places on the internet that claim Amar'e Stoudemire is too flawed and fragile of a basketball player with a fat contract. The other from people who hear a superstar's name and get on their hind legs to get a look at them.
Since it is mostly the former group that'll be reading this, it seems the role of Devil's Advocate has fallen to me to play. Here's a list of mostly pros and a con that could (but probably won't) warm you to the idea of Amar'e Stoudemire in Philadelphia.
Pro - Amar'e Stoudemire is a better defensive rebounder than Elton Brand
At least the past two plus years, anyway. The numbers are similar enough, with an average of 17.07% for Brand and 18.53% for Stat. Amar'e has a reputation of being a bad rebounder and that's not necessarily the case. He's not a great rebounder and never has been, but he isn't miserable either. The Sixers this season have been weak on the glass and while that's not to say Stat would fix those problems (a healthy Spencer Hawes or Nikola Vucevic or even both would be nice), he wouldn't exacerbate them either.
Pro - Stoudemire has been D'Antoni'd
This isn't so much as a pro as it is a Stoudemire apology, but he has been mired in Mike D'Antoni's terrible defensive/rebounding schemes for 7 of his 10 seasons between Phoenix and New York. Under a defensive-minded coach with a clue, Stoudemire, like Thaddeus Young, could show marked defensive improvement and begin actually contributing to a team defense. Partnered with Tyson Chandler this year, he's already shown improvement on the defensive end by not having to cover the opposition's best big man. He'll never be a good defender, but on a good defensive team, he can be masked to the point where he's no longer a liability.
Con - High Usage Rate and incompatibility
Amar'e's always up in the high-20's in terms of usage rate which, for this team, would rank him up there with Bossy Louis Williams as tops on the team. Because he shoots a lot, and a lot from the outside (6.2 attempts from outside of 16 feet), the worry here is that he'd stagnate the offense much like Lou does when he's feeling particularly Bossy. He's been on Suns teams where it's been an ensemble cast but since he's gone to NY, ball movement has been scarce.
Pro - Foul Shooting
Rec Specs is one of the best foul shooting big men on the planet. More importantly, he gets there a ton, averaging 8 foul shots per game for his career. Even though he's been taking significantly less foul shots this season (only 5.4 per game), that still marks him above everyone on the Sixers. Getting to the line (and hitting foul shots!) is especially important come playoff time, when points are even more hard to come by.
Pro - He's Money with a Good Point Guard
Amar'e with a point guard is a very different player than Amar'e sans point guard. As Hoopdata tells us, he's been less reluctant to pull the trigger on outside shots since his arrival in NY. That, no surprise, is due to the fact that Steve Nash is no longer passing him the ball (intentionally, at least). Toney Douglas and Iman Shumpert are not pure point guards and haven't been able to get him rolling to the basket as much as Nash did in Phoenix. He's averaged almost a full 2 more shots from 16 feet out with the Knicks and his eFG% and TS% have plummeted.
To complement that, he'd make Jrue Holiday a much more dangerous player. Working a pick and roll game with Jrue like he did with Nash would be a beautiful sight, and open up the offense even more for spot-up shooters and baseline cutters. Every point guard needs a good scoring big man, and Amar'e would be the perfect Valentine's Day present for Jrue.
So, Should the Sixers Trade for Him?
It all depends on the asking price. His contract is fat, but he's still just 29 and he has been mostly healthy the past three seasons. He's only got two more seasons on his deal than Brand does, and Elton's almost 4 years older. If the Knicks are so desperate to rid themselves of Stat that they would trade him in-division, I may go for it. He'd take quite a bit of work to blend into the system here, but if it does work, the Sixers would become (gasp) legitimate contenders for the Eastern Conference crown.
Again, though, we come back to the asking price. Will it take Brand and a first rounder? Brand, Turner and a pick? Nobody knows how far along the two teams are in discussing it, but my guess is that they're not very far and that it won't happen. What we do know is that Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala are unmovable. The Knicks have their Evan Turner somewhere in between Landry Fields and Carmelo Anthony, so I don't think the pieces are there for a trade to even be made.
It's interesting to hear the Sixers asking about him, especially after the quote from Josh Harris the other day when he said the ownership has deep pockets and will do what it takes to win. Going after a currently-undervalued Amar'e Stoudemire and his lengthy and pricey contract would certainly go a ways towards proving him correct. Something to think about as the Sixers face teams with talented big men like Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Tim Duncan, and Blake Griffin. Currently, the Sixers can't compete with that.
As of now, this is just rumoring fodder but it's definitely worth mulling as the Atlantic-leading Sixers face their toughest stretch of the season.