July 1st is only 13 days away. And in light of Steve Kerr’s recent departure from Phoenix, this date–as ESPN.com’s J.A. Adande pointed out yesterday–may mark the beginning of the end of Phoenix Suns basketball as we know it.
This is the date when Suns Forward Amare Stoudemire is eligible to opt out of his contract, and, although he has expressed interest in having a (max) deal in place before then, according to an unnamed source in Adande’s article, “Amare’s done [in Phoenix]. He’s gone.”
If this report is, in fact, accurate, one can’t help but to wonder how the Suns proceed moving forward. The loss of Amare’s offensive dynamism and rebounding ability would seem by themselves difficult enough to replace.
But beyond that, Amare’s departure would leave guards Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa as the only enduring members of the Suns’ ’04-’05 season–the season that marked Mike D’Antoni’s first as head coach of the Suns, the first of four straight 50+ win seasons for the Suns, and the year that introduced the Suns’ fun, dynamic, seven-seconds-or-less style offense to the world–and thus would seem to officially mark the end of an era.
Therefore, the million dollar question for the Suns is: What will be the identity of this team next year?
Sadly, it is hard for us to imagine that–without Amare–the Phoenix Suns could resemble the exciting, endearing success-story that they typified this year. And for this reason, this moment, caught on camera at the end of the year, is beginning to make more and more sense.