Suns star won't get max deal

Mike Monroe

Phoenix’s All-Star center, Amare Stoudemire, says the presumption he
will opt out of the final season of his contract with the Suns is
decidedly premature.

It is hard to argue the merits of bypassing a guaranteed $17.7 million.

A bird in the hand, and all that.

Smart thinking, Amare.

What’s not so smart: Stoudemire told Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears a few days ago that he’s confident the National Basketball Players Association can take care of business in collective bargaining talks with the league. Talks already have begun in hopes of avoiding calamity when the current deal expires after the 2010-11 season.

“I’m not sure how the CBA’s going to turn out,” he said, “but I’ve got confidence in the Players Association. They are going to make sure they handle that.”

Others aren’t so sure about a negotiation in which owners losing money in a soft economy are certain to seek significant concessions from the players about the share of league revenue devoted to player payroll.

In fact, one head coach recently suggested Stoudemire, among others, would have to take leave of his senses to opt out of such a lucrative deal to take his chances testing the free-agent market.

This longtime coach’s opinion: There won’t be many big-money, long-term deals reached this summer because the entire salary structure is in for a sea change. He doesn’t think Stoudemire will get one of them.

“Stoudemire’s going to opt in,” the head coach said. “Knowing what’s going to come, there might be three or four (long-term deals this summer), but there’s not going to be 10. It’s not going to happen.

“(The owners) are waiting for this redefinition of sport. I think it’s interesting that it’s baseball, football, everybody thinking about this now. The NHL can lock out, too, so you may have all four sports in renegotiation of how we’re going to pay these guys.”

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and, probably, Chris Bosh will get max deals in July. Players such as Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay, maybe not. Stoudemire, with a history of injury, probably will not.

I’ve spoken to other NBA executives who disagree. Their logic is a corollary to the H.L. Mencken aphorism about nobody ever going broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American populace.

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