Moment of truth approaching for Phoenix Suns, Amar'e Stoudemire

Dan Bickley

Relationships aren’t always easy. Familiarity spawns contempt. Lusty courtship can fade into disenchantment, disappointment.

But here on the slow road to goodbye, a strange thing is happening in Arizona.

Amar’e Stoudemire is winning hearts all over again.

"I see him as improving," Suns point guard Steve Nash said.

Enough to award him a maximum contract, which would start at $17.1 million and increase by 10½ percent annually?

"He’s the type of guy who puts up those numbers, but I don’t know," Nash said. "If I’m a Mark Cuban-type, maybe."

Once, Nash felt betrayed by Cuban. Lately, it’s clear that Nash occasionally misses the freewheeling, free-spending Mavericks owner. But that’s a different relationship, a story for another day.

For now, cynics are on red alert. Like many others of his generation, Stoudemire must be chasing a dollar sign, trying to snag the biggest number possible. This summer, he can opt out of the final year on his contract with the Suns and sell himself to the highest bidder. His current level of play and his season-long temperament (mature, unaffected by trade rumors, the anti-Shawn Marion) guarantees no shortage of potential suitors.

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