Suns Keep Stoudemire, Then Lose Him
The trade deadline may have been a dud, but the day after delivered a stunner that should shake up the Western Conference playoff picture. The Suns announced on Friday that Amare Stoudemire -- whose name was tossed around in trade rumors for several weeks -- will likely miss the rest of the regular season after having eye surgery.
Stoudemire was forced to have the surgery after getting poked in the eye and suffering a partially detached retina in a 42-game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. Stoudemire had another eye injury in October. In a statement released by the team, Dr. Pravin Dugel, who peformed the procedure at Spectra Eye Institute in Sun City (Ariz.), said "recovery varies on a case-to-case basis." But the team estimated that it will take eight weeks before Stoudemire returns to physical activity. Stoudemire, the Suns leading scorer the past three seasons, had played in all 53 games and is averaging a team-high 21.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.08 blocks and 2.0 assists.
The news dampens the optimism that came with the firing of Coach Terry Porter during all-star weekend. Alvin Gentry slid one seat over, brought back former Coach Mike D'Antoni's seven-seconds-or-less offense and the Suns exploded for 282 points in consecutive games against the lowly Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns had been one of the more miserable winning teams all season, and owner Robert Sarver appeared open to moving the 26-year-old Stoudemire, but the four-time all-star forward was moved off the trading block when the team fired Porter. Shaquille O'Neal was mentioned in trade rumors on Thursday, with the Cleveland Cavaliers showing the most interest in acquiring the soon-to-be 37-year-old O'Neal.
Now the Suns, who are a game out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference, will have to make due with Louis Amundson and rookie Robin Lopez -- or pray that some player winds up on waiver-wire scrap heap. Not good. Who knew that Jason Richardson/Boris Diaw and Raja Bell trade would come back and haunt the Suns right now? Diaw is averaging 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5 assists since joining the Charlotte Bobcats. And he had his best season as a pro when he filled in for Stoudemire three seasons ago.
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