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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Report: Cavs in the running for Stoudemire

The Arizona Republic reports that the Cavs are one of three teams thought to be in talks with the Suns about trading for star Amare Stoudemire.

Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer breaks down the potential issues the Cavs face if they do deal for Stoudemire:

But with Stoudemire having the right to become a free agent this summer, it would be foolish for either team to trade for him without an agreement he’d re-sign with them. He already made it clear he didn’t want to go to Golden State last summer, which was one of the sticking points to that failed trade. It is hard to believe he’d want to stay in Minnesota, which is in the middle of a large rebuilding project.

That factor reduces Stoudemire’s value on the trade market and is why such a deal would make some sense for the Cavs. Stoudemire has said he wants to play for a contender, but probably would also be attracted to New York or Miami in the offseason. So the danger is the Cavs may find themselves renting him as well.

Another issue in thinking about this potential trade, however, is Stoudemire’s relationship with O’Neal. The people in Phoenix say that O’Neal and Stoudemire got along just fine in the locker room, but they didn’t so much on the floor. Their styles got in each other’s way, and it was one of the reasons the Suns first thought about trading Stoudemire a year ago and then flirted with the idea again in the summer before trading O’Neal instead.

Windhorst states that the natural trade that makes sense for both the Cavs and Suns would be Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson for Stoudemire, since the Suns have “a history of interest in Hickson.” is reporting that the Nets, Pistons, Warriors and T-Wolves are also interested in Stoudemire, although the Suns aren’t interested in a salary dump. They want good players and will seek the best offer.

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