That’s what the Suns are calling Amaré Stoudemire’s role as the club heads into next season. The rising superstar’s response Thursday, the day the club broke up for the summer: "That’s sweet."
The new label appears to be the Suns’ response to Stoudemire’s oft-stated desire to move back to his natural power forward spot. It’s no coincidence that the Suns are making the gesture as the club enters the offseason in which they expect to sign Stoudemire to a six-year contract extension.
Just what is a point center?
Nobody is saying exactly, as Suns officials suggest the concept will evolve over time. But it’s clear that the idea is to move him outside at times on offense — where he can pass, shoot or drive — to lessen the pounding he takes from the league’s big men.
That’s what the Suns did successfully at times during their series with the Spurs. So it’s far from clear that the designation means much practical change.
In any case, Stoudemire seems to like the sound of it.
"I’ll play the same position I did this year, center, with a different twist: A perimeter, inside-outside game.
"I think that’s the right position to label me. I’m going to do a lot more on the court than I did this year.
"Once I polish my game a little more, I’ll be able to take us to the promised land."
Along similar lines, coach Mike D’Antoni said, "He needs to become more of a complete player. When he does that, we’ll win championships."
In other developments as the Suns headed off into the season’s sunset:
• Club officials indicated they’d like to re-sign reserve center Steven Hunter.
Hunter — who will undergo postseason surgery to repair a finger that bothered him much of the season — has an option to play at $720,000 next season. Hunter has said he wants to return to the club but would like a raise.
If Hunter returns, the Suns’ top eight players would be back for next season.
• Even if they bring Hunter back, club officials indicated they’d like to reinforce their front line with another big body.
"We need a stronger guy, more of a muscle guy," D’Antoni said.
• Joe Johnson, asked if a bettor would wager on him coming back to the Suns, said, "No doubt."
Johnson is expected to explore the free agent market. But the Suns have the right to match any offer for him and are expected to do so.
Johnson indicated he felt club officials were genuinely concerned with his health after his orbital fracture in Round 2 vs. Dallas.
"I thought they looked out for my best interests."
• D’Antoni, while refusing to use Johnson’s six-game absence as an excuse for his club’s demise while the playoffs were going on, had a different tone on Thursday.
"When Joe went down, it really got us out of the way we play." He said he’d never seen Johnson appear tired until the final game on Wednesday.
• Shawn Marion said he’s still with the club’s program of playing the power forward spot.
"I want to win. My heart is in winning. You have to make sacrifices sometimes."
• Quentin Richardson, admitting he didn’t fare so well in his first trip to the postseason, said, "I want to work out and make sure I get better."