Amare Stoudemire To Cleveland Rumor Makes More Sense Now Than Ever

Amare StoudemireGet ready for one crazy rumor-fueled weekend of NBA Trade Speculation. With All-Star Break here, the NBA will now see most owners, GMs, and agents converging in Dallas for the festivities. With both sides expected to meet to discuss the impending Collective Bargaining negotiations, it creates an atmosphere conducive to GMs and owners to meet face to face and talk about getting certain deals done.

The biggest deal everyone is talking about now, of course, is the Amare Stoudemire rumor. Whether or not Amare is the right fit for Cleveland is a fair question. I’ll touch on that briefly in a minute, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about the timing of this rumor as well as about what the Cavs are really risking in losing JJ Hickson.

Lets start right there with JJ. Some of the comments on this site and other Cleveland sports sites is getting a little out of control here. I understand everyone is excited because JJ is finally beginning to show slight signs of consistency.  This excites me as well, and I would really like to see what kind of player Hickson can develop into. But any notion that Hickson’s ceiling is in Amare’s ballpark is more than just a little bit of a stretch.  

Lets look at some numbers to back up the stark differences in playing style between JJ and Amare. First off, what offensive skills does JJ have? Beyond his athleticism, he has not developed any offensive skills. “But JJ just dropped 20 on one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Funny you say he has no offensive skills.” How did JJ score most of his points, though? He caught the ball underneath the rim for an easy dunk because the defense was too busy doubling Shaq and/or LeBron.

65.78% of JJ’s FG attempts are dunks, layups, or tip-ins. On those attempts at the rim, JJ is assisted on an astounding 77.8% of them. What this shows is that the shot that JJ primarily takes is a shot that he is unable to create on his own and must be the recipient of someone else’s work. Only 2 players in the NBA who attempt more than 3 shots at the rim per game (Kendrick Perkins and Shawn Marion) are assisted on a higher percentage of them.

For comparison’s sake, only 41.05% of Amare’s attempts are dunks, layups, and tip-ins. Furthermore, Amare is only assisted on 61.4% of his attempts at the rim. What this shows is that Amare is more than capable of creating his own easy basket opportunities and doesn’t need to rely on someone else as much (although he certainly gets more than his fair share of easy setups from Steve Nash).

Beyond just the way they create their shots, Amare also has a much more diverse arsenal of shots at his disposal. Just compare the breakdowns between the FG% of the 2 players from the different shot locations (courtesy of Hoopdata.com):

Player

At Rim

<10 feet

10-15 feet

16-23 feet

Hickson

68.2%

48.5%

17.4%

26.0%

Stoudemire

66.3%

51.6%

51.4%

45.0%

So as you can clearly see, Amare is not only capable of attacking opponents off the pick and roll, but he can also create his own shot inside as well as knock down jumpers. JJ Hickson right now is a one dimensional offensive player, and to brutally honest, has shown very little evidence of getting better in this his 2nd season.

I’m not saying all this to dump on JJ. I was one of the few people who was ok with the selection of JJ in the draft in the first place, and I have always rooted for JJ to get more playing time to better facilitate his growth and development. And I still think he has some room for growth. But he is never going to be Amare Stoudemire. Amare is the real deal, a legit 20+ PER All-Star impact player. To not trade for him simply because you don’t want to give up a 7 pt, 4 rebound per game player is ludicrous.

Now, as for whether Amare is a good fit with Cleveland, that could be a different story. If someone is looking for an angle on why the Cavaliers shouldn’t trade for Amare, this is the smarter avenue to take. I can listen to and respect any argument for why Amare won’t work in Cleveland. Too much ego, demands the ball too much, not enough shots to go around, atrocious defense, etc, etc. All of those sound like decent reasons to be wary. But the loudest argument I’ve heard is simply that Shaq and Amare didn’t get along or work in Phoenix. But for that, I respectfully defer to both John Krolik and Seth Pollack.

Krolik (who runs Cavs: The Blog and also writes for SLAM Online and ProBasketballTalk.com among other places) wrote about the misperception that Shaq and Amare don’t work together back when the first round of Stoudemire rumors hit:

Despite the fact that the Suns have replaced Shaq with three-point bomber Channing Frye and opened up the paint for Amare, his numbers at the basket remain identical to where they were last season. He takes 46% of his shots at the rim, up 1% from last season. He shoots 66.8% at the rim, up exactly 1% from last season. And his foul drawing rate is 18.2%, which is actually a little lower than it was last season. Whatever it was that caused Amare’s effectiveness at the basket to drop last season, it looks like it wasn’t Shaq.

Amare and Shaq were also quite effective when they played together, especially on the offensive end. Last season, Amare and Shaq’s two most used lineups had an average offensive rating of 1.14 and a defensive rating of 1.07.

This season, the Shaq/Hickson lineup has an offensive rating of 1.05 and a defensive rating of 1.12. The most-used Shaq/Varejao lineup has an offensive rating of 1.02 and a defensive rating of 1.02. Of Shaq’s 10 most-used lineups this season, only two have an offensive rating equal to or better than 1.14, and those lineups have been used for a combined 43 minutes. Now, that 82games data is 12 days old, and the lightbulb really seems to be turning on for Shaq and the Cavs over the last few games. However, the above data does show that Shaq was more effective playing alongside of Amare than he was playing with either JJ Hickson or Anderson Varejao. I think this should be taken into consideration before Shaq and Amare are labeled oil and water.

And then there’s Seth Pollack who writes for Bright Side of the Sun who also said via Twitter Friday night that he disagrees with the notion that Shaq and Amare didn’t mesh:

Totally disagree w @JohnKrolik @PDCavsInsider that amare and shaq didn’t mesh. Shaq and Nash didn’t mesh. Shaq and Amare can’t play D together though

From what I recall of watching the Suns play last year, I honestly don’t remember ever feeling like Shaq and Amare were hindering each other’s play. If anything, I think it was just a lack of explosiveness from his surgically repaired knee that has caused Amare’s effectiveness at the rim to drop a little. Despite this fact, though, Amare has still molded himself into a more complete player and is still performing at an All-Star level.

On a side note, I just wanted to say a couple words on the timing of this rumor popping up again. When I first heard this rumor, I wondered if it was a possible counter move to the perceived posturing by the Wizards of trading Jamison and Butler to Boston in an effort to entice Cleveland to trade Hickson. CelticsHub.com mentions that If Cleveland lands Stoudemire and Washington finalizes the Butler to Dallas trade, then they will have no leverage left to get rid of Jamison’s contract. CelticsHub then says:

Ah, but Adrian Wojnarowski, who broke the original C’s-Wiz story this morning at Yahoo!, is reporting that the Celtics are still discussing a deal for Jamison.

This, frankly, surprises me, unless the C’s could pry another asset from the Wizards in exchange for taking Jamison.

So now the Wizards will have gone from leveraging the Cavs to sweetening the pot by including Hickson to having to add in someone like Foye just to get the Celtics to take Jamison off their hands. So I began to wonder if Ferry was using this scenario to reduce the image of desperation and to leverage the Wizards into agreeing not to take Hickson just to avoid being stuck with Jamison’s contract.

However, I think the Wizards may be saying that being stuck with Jamison isn’t the worst thing in the world. Besides, to read so deeply into motives for floating trade rumors is a dubious practice to partake in anyway. But I just wanted to throw that out there, because on some levels it does make sense.

But as we begin to hear more and more positive signals regarding the chances of LeBron staying in Cleveland, the more you realize perhaps Danny Ferry’s goals in making a trade have simply changed gears a bit. Chris Bosh has recently stated that he doesn’t want to be anyone’s sidekick, and Dwyane Wade has been throwing out some hints that his preference is to stay in Miami. These developments of course stand out in stark contrast to the fantasies of the likes of Bill Simmons (although Wade did say this weekend that he thought LeBron could take less money to play with Wade in Miami), but it does support Danny Ferry’s methodology of moving forward while operating under the assumption of LeBron staying.

I have always said that trading for Antawn Jamison was all about winning the Championship this year. Sure, the Cavs could win it without making a trade, but getting Jamison unquestionably increases the Cavaliers’ chances this season. So if you’re of the belief that LeBron only stays if the Cavs win the title, then you should be of the opinion that Ferry should give up Hickson for Jamison.

On the other hand, if you believe LeBron wants to stay in Cleveland and wants to surround himself with talent for the future, then Stoudemire is the trade to make. Amare is still young at age 27 and even though he lost some of his power in his knee after his injury, the knee has still held up well and he hasn’t had further injury problems with it. If you’re Danny Ferry and you believe LeBron is going to stay in Cleveland, then this is a great chance to setup a long term future with a core of LeBron, Amare, Mo, and possibly even Delonte. You can always build around that core.

Finally, the other advantage that trading for Amare gives the Cavaliers is that it makes them much less reliant on Ilgauskas getting bought out than if the Cavaliers do the Jamison trade. Stoudemire is much more capable of playing center than Jamison is, and so if by chance Ilgauskas isn’t bought out (or if he doesn’t agree to a buyout or signs with a different team after getting bought out), the Cavaliers will still have a guy they can rotate into the center role when needed.

I still fully support Danny Ferry’s decision to do everything in his power to keep JJ Hickson on the team. But I don’t support Ferry allowing it to be the final sticking point that prevents a trade for Amare getting done. If Phoenix tries to make the Cavaliers take back Jason Richardson and his $14 million remaining on his contract next year, then Ferry should try to argue that in doing so the Cavaliers should be able to keep Hickson. I don’t want to give the impression that I am anti-Hickson. Far from it. Rather, I just fear letting emotion and sentiment getting in the way of making a smart business decision. It’s great to see JJ playing well in mid-regular season games in February, but a player like Amare Stoudemire is a pure difference maker come May and June in the postseason. Ferry can and should posture all he can to keep JJ, but to not do a deal like this just to keep Hickson could potentially be a decision Cleveland fans will long regret.

_____

Photo Source: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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  • saggy

    and Tsunami – dont be crazy here. Mo Williams is fine for the Cavs but Rajon Rondo + LeBron James = dynasty.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Both players are good foul shooters, .700% for Jamison and .745% for Amare, but Amare gets to the line a lot more often- 365 attempts vs Jamison’s 217 this year. That makes sense since he works in the paint more than AJ.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    And, to continue our comparisons, Amare’s TS% is 82 points higher. That’s a lot, actually. I think some of the perception that Amare is a no-passing offensive black hole is because when he gets the ball, he does a nice job of putting it in the hoop. He’s a frighteningly efficient scorer. For reference, Amare’s true shooting % this year is .610. LeBron James’ TS% is .612.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    For further reference- JJ Hickson’s TS% is .568, and nearly all his attempts are right at the rim. So, you have to appreciate Amare’s TS .610% when you factor in that he takes so many midrange jumpers.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Listen Boogerman…..I provide facts and obvious observations.

    Fact is…..Jamison is 33. Fact is his game is declining.
    Fact is….we have no money for free agency…… fact is…..we have the best PF this team needs to fit its system already JJ. Fact is……you don’t give up young talent for old band aid players……

    I have provided tons of info……all you like to talk about is dumping JJ for Jamison for THIS YEAR.

    You never talk about what we do next year, how we replace JJ’s athleticism, and power with a young potential PF? Please…have at it buddy.

    I talk about all kinds of things, ways that Jamison will work on this team, ways i think we can get him without giving up JJ, I think about the future, which is all these trades are for…..and I look 3-5 years down the road.

    All you say is Hickson is not as good as Jamison NOW, and we need to get a better PF.

    Tsunami makes a good point, Hickson may not be the best PF, but he is the best PF for the Cavs. He doesn’t take the ball out of Lebrons hands, shaq’s hands, or MO’s hands. He is there if they need a bail out, and that shot will be there everyday, playoffs or regular season, lakers or nets. THAT IS FACT…its already happened….
    So stop with you “pretend I’m educated” rhetoric towards me, and start spilling some info on how we solve the PF problem after the Jamison bandaid falls off this summer.

    Please…..anyone who backs Boogerman…..Everyone runs their mouths about opinions but never provides solutions when I comment on possible issues…you guys are all like Obama.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    You’re skating the line, Jake. Chill out. No need for blanket political statements. This is a place for sports.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    I don’t like skating. And the “line” is where the best conversations take place.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    Whats the beef about?

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Jake- the best power forward on the Cavs is Anderson Varejao. JJ is probably behind Leon Powe in that group, and Powe still wears a three piece suit every game. No offense, but geez. JJ has just in the last month proven that he might just be good enough to stay in the NBA a while. We’re talking about all-stars here and you’re giving us JJ Hickson. He’s a nice young player. He can dunk. Someday he may be able to shoot and stay in front of his man in the post. He shouldn’t be traded for Jamison, this we agree on, but only because the Cavs would have lots of leverage in that negotiation with the Wizards who have no where else to turn. But “best PF for the Cavs?” Let’s not get carried away here, okay? This is a guy who is lucky to stay on the floor for 20 minutes.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Jay..

    Would you give up JJ in order to get Jamison for this year?

    I am heated because there is a certain guy on here who fails to understand the definition of potential and building for the future, and only wants to win this year.

  • Tsunami

    Teams don’t even guard Rondo – he’d be the second worst point guard to play next to lebron after e snow. You gotta be able to shoot a little to play in the Cavs backcourt.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Ohio City- let it go. There is no way in hell Ferry is giving the Wizards JJ Hickson, so this whole thing you have going with boogeyman is completely moot. There. I said it. Moot. This will not happen. The Wizards are in no position to make demands. They get what Ferry gives them if they are fortunate enough to be allowed back to the table. Unless boogeyman is actually Danny Ferry’s alias here. Hmm.. I kind of thought Danny’s grammar would be better. (Just kidding, boogeyman.)

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    If you don’t like skating, Olympics week must not be for you. If you want to throw in random, vague, out-of-nowhere blanket political statements, there are plenty of other sites that you can do that on. Let try to keeps it smart and civil here.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Yah Matt I agree. We have so much leverage over the Wizards now. Hahah I don’t hate Boogeyman, he’s cool. I just didn’t like his stance on Jamison / JJ.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    @Jake, The Magic doubled Shaq and ignored JJ and he dropped 20.

    If you ignore Jamison or Murphy do you know what will happen to you?

    I agree with you to a degree. I would NOT trade JJ for Amare, David West, Anthony Randolph, or Tyrus Thomas. You’re right, JJ has potential and if hes hitting his outside shot i wouldn’t trade him for Jamison. But i would trade him for Murphy in a heartbeat.

    In our system, I think Murphy would be a true wild card type of player but i also see your side of it.

    LoL, you sound like me:) A HARDCORE debater that loves a challenge on a relevant topic. I Fu****** love it.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    My bad Denny.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    The weakest dunk contest of all times.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Windy just updated on trade news. This Amare thing is looking likely. Look- no matter how you feel about this (I admit I’m giddy), you have to give our owner and GM their due respect for even making this a possibility. Dan Gilbert is not only the best Cleveland sports team owner, but maybe the best sports team owner, period. The fact we Cleveland sports fans are quibbling over which awesome player we may be able to add to practically guarantee a championship is just plain frickin’ awesome.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    I just used “awesome” twice in the same sentence. I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE!!!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    If we get Richardson (who i think woud be a nice pick up) we would have to give up a bench player. West, Moon, Powe, maybe Boobie. I really would like to add a bench player that can get his own shot and maybe go out and drop 30 if he has to.

    Sounds like richardson. West is the best scorer on our bench and if he gets hot the most he would give us is 22 points or so. So if we can get richardson and Amare for Hickson, Z, West and a 1st round draft pick, i’d take that. Thats not bad at all.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    Plus whoever we get can’t take the court until they learn all the handshakes.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Jay- if the Cavs have to give up a guard (they probably won’t have to), it will be Gibson. West is the Cavaliers’ best on ball defender. Richardson will ride a lot of pine, and be Delonte insurance in case he gets suspended this season or goes to the clink or goes crazy. The Suns want to dump J-Rich and his stupid contract and get nothing for it, thank-you-very-much. It’s the Benjamins, son.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    From what I’ve hard the offer on the table is

    J-Rich
    Amare
    for
    Z
    Wally
    Delonte
    JJ

    Giving up so much of the chemistry makes me worry a bit, but you can’t pass up on talent like this.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    Hes a better on-ball defender than Lebron? I don’t even think hes better than Boobie on the defensive in.

    Oh, and Richardson is better than West. There is no way richardson rides the pine behind west.

    Get it together bitmatt

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    @Jake, I agree 100%.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Woj says Z, JJ, various sign n trades of old players, and a first rounder. Where are you seeing West in the deal?

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    Jay- LeBron plays free safety until the last five minutes of every close game. Delonte & AP body up on key perimeter threats. Do you not watch these games?

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Regardless of who is in the trade, I think having Richardson off the bench would be a nice spark for the 2nd unit. Not saying he is better or worse than anyone, but he would best suit this team in a role like Delonte has. Just more playing time.

    I also think Amare should play the 5 spot often in games with Andy / Lebron at the 4

    Mo, Parker/Moon, JRich, Lebron, Amare would be a sick lineup…..quick scoring, but D will suffer.

    They will be so versatile with this trade. We will lose that PG/SG ability of Delonte, but I think Boobie has proved his worth these last 10 games.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    And the reason Mike Brown doesn’t play Gibson when Mo is healthy is because he is not a good defender. Sheesh- I thought this was common knowledge at this point.

  • MattyFos

    Ok, heres what im thinking. What if we involved Detroit into this trade. We get Amare and Rip. The Suns get Z, Wally, and whoever else, Detroit gets Jason Richardson. Then we throw in scrubs to make the money work. I think im the only guy on here who wants Rip. I think his style of play can still make him an effective player for the remainder of his contract. I dont know… I am a Rip fan and i think he would be perfect to play next to lbj

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Man I like Rip as well, but his contract is rough.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    MattyFos- I admire your fandom of Rip Hamilton; I really do. But having Rip for three more years at 12 million per versus being able to trade J-Rich’s giant contract for somebody(s) awesome next year is just not a winning scenario.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    @Bitmatt, the fact that you just supported a statement that said west is a better defender then Lebron automatically excludes you from any intelligent debate.

    The fact that Lebron came in 2nd in defensive player of the year voting means nothing to you? WoW.

    I will be ignoring you from now on. Your comments are invisible to me from now on out.

    @Jake, Richardson would be a super nice addition to the bench and if that deal is on the table, i’ll take it with no 2nd guessing.

  • http://bitmatt.com bitmatt

    That’s okay Jay. Love you!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    @MattyFos, Amare and Rip together on the court with LBJ and Shaq?

    Thats alot of damn money. Hahahahahahah. Plus it sounds odd. I don’t think that would work but you talk about Luxury tax?

  • MattyFos(Rip it up)

    Yeah, j-rich makes more sense… Doesnt mean i have to like it.

    /you just got stubborned

  • MattyFos

    It would be less money than having jrich ride the bench

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Jaythetruth

    @MattFos, Yeah but thats Hamilton $5.812,500 for the rest of this season and over the next 3 years he makes $37,950,500.

    Richardson, we would have to pay $21,111,110 for the rest of this season and next.

    I guess they both are big contracts but Hamilton comes with alot of bread. Richardson is cheaper.

  • Jake In Ohio City (Natty The Dog)

    Jay you know me too well man. I love to argue, and the more someone fuels it, the more I talk. I am passionate about the Cavs, so I sometimes go overboard. I believe in JJ, so I hate to trade him, its not that I am a homer and think the cavs have the best at every position, but I jut think JJ has potential can be the future of this team at PF.

    BitMatt – I have spent the whole day on CavFanatic.com reading the forums and updates from Windy and ESPN. Those are just the different names I’ve gotten from everyone…not sure how correct they are, but the $$$ matches up.

  • akron.slinger

    I personally would keep JJ. That being said if Amare would actually come to Cleveland then its hard to say no to an All-Star. Also he is a mix player who can play the PF and Center spots. I would keep JJ for chemisty and I don’t think Amare would fit to well in Cleveland….he has no D but again you can’t say no to adding an All-Star to LBJ.