Posted on: May 30, 2010 2:36 am
PHOENIX – If this was Amar’e Stoudemire’s last game as a member of the Suns, it will be a tough one for both sides to carry with them into an offseason of uncertainty.
“I’m still not sure what the future holds right now,” Stoudemire said after scoring 27 points as the Suns were eliminated 111-103 by the Lakers in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. “I’m just going to take a couple of days, enjoy the family and enjoy the rest and start figuring out what the next move is.”
It was too soon, the pain from the loss too raw, for Suns president Steve Kerr to even contemplate Stoudemire’s future.
“We’ll deal with that later,” said Kerr, who once the sting dissipates will be able to walk away from this season feeling positive about the organization’s future.
“I’m just really proud of all our guys, every single one of them – coaches, players,” Kerr said. “It was a fantastic season. It ended a little too soon, but that’s the way it goes.”
Asked what will stick with him as he evaluates the season, Kerr said, “The togetherness, the unity, the complete and total unselfishness. It’s just a great mix of youth and veterans and it was a lot of fun watching them try to work together. They have fun every day and they couldn’t wait to get to work.”
The future is bright for the young core of Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, Louis Amundson and even first-round pick Earl Clark, who didn’t play in the series. But everything the Suns do between now and the start of next season will be predicated on Stoudemire’s imminent leap into the unrestricted free-agent market. Stoudemire has said he will opt out of his contract, and reiterated Saturday night that there’s only a 50-50 chance that he stays in Phoenix.
“Absolutely still there,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure there will be a conversation between myself and the organization and my family and we’ll figure out what the best scenario is and make a smart decision.”
Dialogue between the Suns and Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, remains open. But Kerr wasn’t ready to focus on the most important aspect of the Suns’ offseason – not this soon.
“A year ago, nobody knew how good Dragic would be, how good Lopez would be,” Kerr said. “Jared Dudley and those guys stepping up and delivering for us really has solidified our future – which is important because two years ago, we were looking old and we were looking like we could be in some trouble. So it’s been gratifying to watch those guys grow.”
Now comes the hard part: Keeping them together.