Amare Stoudemire to stay put?

It would appear so, according to CBS columnist Ken Berger.

Suns are “going to hold” on Stoudemire, source says. STAT stays in PHX.

Argh! Stoudemire has been on the block for over a year now and he still doesn’t get traded? If there’s such a thing as NBA blue balls, this Stoudemire trade has to be it.

I blame Steve Kerr.


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Heat ‘coming hard’ after Stoudemire

Just two days away from the trade deadline, Marc Stein says that the Miami Heat are stepping up their efforts to acquire Amare Stoudemire.

The Heat emerged from the All-Star break even more determined than they were before to find a third team to help them broker an Amare deal before Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

Miami is “coming hard” after Stoudemire, one source said.

Although the Heat have first-round picks available to sweeten any Stoudemire deal — with the Suns hoping to come away with at least one first-rounder if they decide to trade Stoudemire this week — sources say Phoenix has no interest in taking back Jermaine O’Neal’s hefty expiring contract because, at $23 million, it requires more players to be worked into the deal than the Suns are comfortable with.

Yet one source insisted Monday night that the Suns have not ruled out taking back forward Michael Beasley as part of a Stoudemire deal.

The Suns seem to be more interested in J.J. Hickson than Beasley, which is a little odd. Beasley does have some off-court issues, but he seems to have straightened those out and he’s having a very nice sophomore campaign (16-7 on 46% shooting). His 3PT touch has mysteriously disappeared — 41% last year vs. 28% this season — and he is still a work in progress defensively, but he’s one of the best young scorers and rebounders in the league.

Ric Bucher writes that the Suns aren’t alone in their disinterest in Beasley.

“While other pieces would’ve had to be included, the trade essentially would’ve sent Beasley to Philadelphia, Iguodala to Phoenix and Stoudemire to Miami. The deal broke down, sources say, because Philadelphia wasn’t overwhelmed by the prospect of rebuilding around Beasley. This isn’t an isolated case: the Heat appear to be the team most enamored with Stoudemire, but their trading chips are Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal, aka, a big, fat expiring contract. So far, no one has been willing to bite — underscoring why the Heat tried so hard on draft night in 2008 to trade down and take the player they really wanted, O.J. Mayo.”

That last sentence underlines an interesting point. The Heat felt obligated to take Beasley with the #2 pick because he was widely considered the second-best talent in the draft. But if they really wanted Mayo and couldn’t find a trade partner, then they should have drafted the guy they really wanted.

According to Stein’s source, the Suns haven’t ruled out a Beasley-for-Stoudemire swap, so that still may end up being the best deal that Phoenix can get.


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Cavs close to acquiring Stoudemire?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are closing in on a deal that would bring Amare Stoudemire to town, according to Chris Broussard’s sources.

The Cavaliers would send Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson to Phoenix in exchange for Stoudemire, one of the league’s most dominant big men.

While Cleveland remains in talks with several other teams, the club, from management down to the players, has settled on Stoudemire as its first choice.

The ball is in Phoenix’s court. The Suns are mulling whether the financial relief provided by Ilgauskas’ $12 million contract and the young and talented Hickson are enough for them to part with Stoudemire.

Cleveland believes the addition of Stoudemire would all but seal LeBron James’ re-signing with the team when he becomes a free agent this summer. The Cavaliers are also prepared to sign Stoudemire, who has one year and $17 million remaining on his contract, to a long-term contract extension once the season ends.

It isn’t surprising that the Suns are the ones mulling this over, as this is pretty much a no-brainer for the Cavs. With Shaq’s salary coming off the books this summer, Cleveland would have plenty of room to re-sign both LeBron and Stoudemire and still stay under the luxury tax threshold. The most important part about that last sentence is that with Stoudemire in tow, one would have to think that LeBron would almost certainly re-sign. I suppose if the Cavs flamed out of the playoffs that both players could opt out and go elsewhere, but that doesn’t seem likely. The acquisition of Stoudemire would also make the re-signing of Ilguaskas far less important. If something were to happen to Shaq, Stoudemire is perfectly capable of playing big minutes at center and has a nice jumpshot to help space the court.

Whether or not Hickson is worth giving up Stoudemire largely depends on what else is available. I’d much rather do a deal with Miami for Michael Beasley, but we don’t know for sure if that offer is on the table. It’s possible that the Suns leaked this information to prompt other teams to step up their offers, and the Heat, facing the possibility of a long-term LeBron/Amare marriage in Cleveland, may very well step up their pursuit.

Hickson is a nice young player that projects to be a quality starter or star in a few seasons. His PER (14.33) is solid for a 21-year-old in his second season. He has had his ups and downs this season, but is averaging 13-5 on 60% shooting in five games in February. Size-wise, he’s 6’9″ with long arms and pretty much is a prototypical power forward in today’s NBA. He already has a solid back-to-the-basket game and a decent jump shot.

However, given that the Cavs are far worse when he’s on the court, it’s understandable that the Suns aren’t 100% sold. Beasley is the more talented player, but he has had character issues in the past and that would give any team pause.


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Why the Heat want Amare

John Hollinger expounds on the rumor that the Miami Heat are…um…hot on the trail of Amare Stoudemire. Such a deal would almost certainly include Michael Beasley.

Additionally, there are two different angles that make such a deal intriguing. First, let’s say the Heat trade Beasley for Stoudemire, who then opts in to his $17 million deal for next year. If the Heat can find somebody to take Cook’s $2.1 million deal off their hands at the trade deadline, they would have enough cap space to sign another free agent starting in the $10 million to $12 million range to join Wade and Stoudemire. Maybe that’s not enough to get LeBron or Chris Bosh, but it could bag them the likes of Rudy Gay, David Lee or Carlos Boozer. Plus, the addition of Stoudemire would likely take the doomsday scenario of Wade’s potential departure off the table.

If the Heat acquire Stoudemire and he opts out, that adds risk for Miami but also might be even better. The Heat could offer Stoudemire a long-term deal for less than the max and still make the case to him that he would come out ahead financially, both in terms of security and the total dollars, since he could get six years with the Heat on the open market as opposed to only three years if the Heat gave him a contract extension.

If his deal started in the $13 million range, Miami could create enough cap space to sign James (or Bosh) to a max deal in addition to retaining Wade and Stoudemire. That’s the home-run scenario, and given the apparent lure of Miami for Stoudemire — he is from Florida and wants to play for a winning team, so presumably he would stay — it’s a possibility worth contemplating.

For the so-called “home-run” scenario (landing LeBron), the Heat would have to acquire a big man (Stoudemire or Bosh) and hope that the Cavs flame out in the playoffs. I just don’t see LeBron leaving Cleveland if the Cavs make the Finals and he’ll almost certainly stay if they win a title. (Unless, of course, he takes the tact of “I brought the city a championship so now I can leave triumphant.”) Anyway, the more disgruntled LeBron is at the end of the season the better the chances that he lands in Miami.

If Miami does trade for Stoudemire, I doubt Bosh lands in South Beach. They could go with a twin towers approach, but I’m not sure how the two players would co-exist in Miami’s offense. If a deal for Stoudemire could be had, the Heat should pull the trigger because a bird in the hand (Amare) is better than two in the bush (Bosh), and the move would almost certainly convince Wade to re-sign.

As for Phoenix, would the Suns agree to a deal that was centered around Beasley? Earlier today, I suggested a David Lee-for-Stoudemire swap, and I think the Beasley move would be comparable. Beasley isn’t the player that Lee is right now, but he’s five years younger and he’s under contract for the next three seasons. (Lee will be a free agent this summer.) I think this is about as good as the Suns are going to do, and they should probably do something because it sure looks like Stoudemire will opt out after the season.


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Five blockbuster deals that should happen (but probably won’t)

The trade deadline is just a week away, so I thought it would be fun to play puppet master and propose a few blockbuster trades that should happen, but probably won’t. Let’s start with the least likely and work our way to the most credible. (Honestly, I had this idea before I hit the ESPN NBA page this morning and saw Chad Ford’s similar piece. Don’t worry, we don’t suggest any of the same trades.) Click on the link to see each trade in the ESPN Trade Machine.

1. Amare Stoudemire for David Lee
To make the salaries work, the Knicks would also include Jared Jeffries and Chris Duhon in the deal.
Why the Knicks should do it: Stoudemire had his best years under Mike D’Antoni and would welcome a reunion. He’s also a big name that would encourage another superstar to join the franchise this summer, and he’s more likely to re-sign with the Knicks because New York is the media capital of the world. They’d also benefit from clearing Jeffries’ salary from the books, leaving around $13 million in cap space to sign a big name (assuming Stoudemire does NOT opt out of the final year of his deal).
Why the Suns should do it: David Lee is a great fit for the Suns’ up-tempo system and he’s almost as good as Stoudemire (PER: 22.1 vs. Amare’s 20.2) at about 60% of the cost. Phoenix would pay a little more this season and have to take on Jeffries’ contract, but they’d have a young All-Star caliber power forward to build around. If they stand pat and Amare opts out, they stand to lose him with nothing to show for it, as they only would have around $4 million in cap space if Amare bolts.
Why it won’t happen: Phoenix won’t want to take on Jeffries’ contract for next season without a commitment from Lee to re-sign for a reasonable salary. He was asking for $10 million per season last summer, but his price is probably going up after making a push for the All-Star Game in 2010.

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