Hawks (31-22) at Kings (11-43)
Scoring: Kings 14th (99.1), Hawks 18th (98.6).
Shooting: Kings tied for 24th (44.5 percent), Hawks tied for 13th (45.6).
Scoring defense: Kings 29th (108.9), Hawks 12th (97.0).
Shooting defense: Kings 30th (48.4 percent), Hawks tied for 12th (45.3).
Rebound differential: Kings 30th (minus-5.2), Hawks 24th (minus-2.4).
The link: Hawks coverage in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The almanac: On this date in 1964, Wilt Chamberlain scored 52 points, giving him back-to-back 50-point games. On this date in 1972, Randy Smith of the Buffalo Braves played in the first of what would become a record 906 consecutive games over an 11-year span that ended in March 1983. A.C. Green would later break the mark. On this date in 1986, Alvin Robertson of the Spurs had 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals to join Nate Thurmond as the only players to reach a quadruple-double. Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson later joined the list. On this date in 1996, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the Bulls became the sixth pair of teammates to score at least 40 points in a non-overtime game.
But this much is certain:
Stoudemire does not want to be in a rebuilding situation like Sacramento and will gladly signal as much to the Kings, hoping to steer them away from the huge risk of parting with a package of prospects, picks and expiring contracts for someone who can opt out after next season. He would report, he would play hard, he would turn the electricity back on at Arco -- but he would arrive with zero intention of staying beyond July 1, 2010.
That's why a Stoudemire deal was such a great debate from the start as the Kings quickly emerged as an obvious trade partner. Kevin Martin, a first-round pick or two, some mix of the Bobby Jackson/Shelden Williams/Quincy Douby expiring contracts, or maybe Jason Thompson and Donte Greene plus pick(s) plus short money, surely would have gotten Sac in the game. And there would have been sound justification from both sides to go through with it.
If the Kings gave up the 2009 lottery pick, possibly the No. 1 pick, and a chunk of the hope already on the roster in return for a little less than a season and a half of Stoudemire, though?
It would make the current mood of the fan base seem mildly displeased.
Stoudemire's preference is to remain a Sun, people familiar with his thinking say. He is frustrated, like a lot of people there, but not disgruntled to the point of wanting to tunnel out, and dropping 140 on the Clippers on Tuesday in the first game since Terry Porter was fired as coach will excite a locker room anxious to reclaim the old days of wearing out the scoreboard. But if he is traded, Stoudemire wants his destination to be somewhere like Cleveland, which has a chance to win big now, or someplace from the level of New Jersey or Chicago, teams with tangible hope of reaching the future soon.
"Who cares?" does not work as a response because of the clause that allows him to become a free agent after next season. It would be leaving $17.69 million on the table, a huge amount any time and especially in the days of financial meltdown that will strike the 2009 free agents. But Stoudemire is 26 and an All-Star and understandably feels he has two big contracts left in his career, so giving money back to be where he wants isn't the worst arrangement in his mind.
He doesn't even have to go through with it. Just the uncertainty can create enough of a mess, and the last thing the Kings need now is another mess. They need to get to a tall clearing, not another risky intersection.
Maybe the Kings push forward and bang the phones. Maybe, for the sake of argument and keeping in mind the credible reports of the new Suns plan of the moment to keep the group together, the sides do a deal and the Kings figure they will win Stoudemire's loyalty with victories and an improved atmosphere. It's possible. Maybe they do a deal, in time come to accept that the wandering eyes will lead to a summer 2010 departure, and flip him into something else next season. Also possible.
Bold moves, but Geoff Petrie never has a problem with bold moves. Right now, though, the day before the trade deadline, with the guys on the other end of the line in Phoenix switching direction by the minute, with the possibility of retaining a very high draft pick and a couple promising parts of the core of the future, Stoudemire would be coming to the Kings as a stopover.