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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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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Does Dwyane Wade’s future depend on LeBron?

The short answer is…maybe.

Have you noticed how all of this LeBron-to-the-Knicks talk has died down as the Cavs put up the best record in the NBA this season? That’s because Cleveland is a favorite to make the Finals, and with the way the Lakers are struggling against the Rockets out West, the Cavs are looking more and more like an NBA champion. If they do manage to win a title this year (or next), it will be very difficult for LeBron to jump ship without looking like a total a-hole. So he won’t. If he wins a ring, he’ll stay in Cleveland.

So the Knicks will have to look elsewhere for their superstar — enter Dwyane Wade. As Dave Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel writes, the Big Apple would be an attractive destination for Wade.

The Knicks have the money. They have the allure. They have coach Mike D’Antoni’s fun style. They can tell Wade he would revive Knicks basketball and get the kind of spotlight only New York offers such stars. Who wouldn’t be tempted by all that?

So Hyde advocates that instead of waiting for 2010 and trying to add a star big man like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire while at the same time re-signing Wade, the Heat should go ahead and trade Michael Beasley to Toronto for Bosh this summer.

So there’s the Armageddon scenario for the Heat: It advances only slightly next year, misses on Bosh, has the Knicks singing a siren song to Wade … and loses him.

If you’re Riley, do you risk that? All for Beasley, who, much as I like him, posed as many questions as answers this season? Even Wade, who measures his words, allowed as to how Beasley frustrated him at times with the immaturity.

The best way to sign Wade this summer is to offer concrete evidence he can win big here. That means landing his friend, Bosh. They were Olympians together. They share the same agent. They respect each other greatly.

That’s why the smartest move to make is trading the salary-matching pair of Beasley and Mark Blount to Toronto for Bosh.

It’s an attractive scenario to wait until 2010 and add Bosh to a lineup that includes Wade and Beasley. But there’s a good chance that Bosh could sign with Cleveland or that the Knicks could come in and steal both Bosh and Wade away from the Heat. Why risk a future with Wade for the promise of Beasley? While it sounds a little crazy to trade a young player with a ton of upside for a guy you might be able to sign outright the next summer, it’s risk versus reward. A Wade/Bosh combo would guarantee the Heat would compete in the East for the next five years. Throw in the steady Udonis Haslem, a more mature Mario Chalmers and a small forward to be named later, and Heat would have a nice lineup. But the biggest reason the Heat should acquire Bosh is that it will almost guarantee that Wade re-ups as well.

Now the question is — will the Raptors go for it?

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