While the conversation was categorized as nothing more than "due diligence," the Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly contacted the New York Knicks to inquire about the availability of Amare Stoudemire.
Stoudemire, who signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the Knicks just 18 months ago, hasn't been the same player since Carmelo Anthony arrived in the Big Apple last February.
Prior to Anthony's arrival, Stoudemire averaged 26.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. This season, his numbers have plummeted to 17.7 PPG and 8.2 RPG. Even so, he's still a six-time All-Star who would instantly bolster the 76ers' front line.
With a 7-13 record heading into Sunday, rumors that the Knicks would begin to clean house have swirled incessantly over the past few weeks. The axe is likely to fall on head coach Mike D'Antoni, but the fact that New York is entertaining an offer from one of its closest rivals means that perhaps no one is safe.
Because of Stoudemire's cap number, it's probable that Philadelphia would include power forward Elton Brand—who is on the books for just over $17 million this season—in any potential deal. By the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a Brand-for-Stoudemire swap would work straight up, but New York would more than likely ask the 76ers to include one of their younger players in the trade.
A package of Andre Iguodala and Andres Nocioni would work as well, but a Anthony/Iguodala combination seems a bit counter-intuitive. Then again, these are the New York Knicks.
Provided that they don't mortgage the future, the move makes a lot of sense for the 76ers. Stoudemire would be a legitimate offensive threat in the low-post—something Philadelphia has lacked since Chris Webber's last full season with the team (2005-06).
But while the 29-year-old Stoudemire would be the superstar-level talent that many Sixers fans have been begging for, Philadelphia would still lack a go-to option in crunch time.
From New York's standpoint, their primary motivation to move Stoudemire is to rid themselves of his bloated contract. While the Knicks wouldn't be able to use the amnesty clause on Brand in the offseason (if his is indeed part of any deal), the balance of his contract (one year, $18.16 million) is far more palatable than the three seasons and $65 million remaining on Stoudemire's deal.
Given their early season success, it's highly unlikely that the 76ers would pull the trigger on such a move at this point. But since they are the ones who initiated the conversation with the Knicks, it seems that anything is possible.