With less than four weeks to go until the NBA trade deadline, teams' interests are boiling over into the press.
Amare Stoudemire is at the center of the rumor mill. Will he be representing Phoenix when he plays in this year's All-Star game? Is that the kind of question tagged to a "franchise player?"
Whether he's worth the money (and occasional headache) or not, seven teams have been reported to show an interest in the high-scoring, low-rebounding forward. We take a look at the possible packages they could offer, as well as the likelihood of such deals ever happening at all.
A draft-day trade involving Stoudemire and the Warriors was nearly consummated—until the Stephen Curry dropped into the Warriors' lap. Golden State went home faster than a Deal or No Deal contestant with six figures in their pocket.
Apparently, though, the Warriors are taking another look into acquiring Stoudemire from Phoenix. One factor has to be promising youngster Anthony Randolphand his deteriorating relationship with short-tempered coach Don Nelson. Once untouchable, Randolph has been made available by a franchise sick of character issues.
Since cap numbers come into play (and Stoudemire's contract alone is over $16 million), a deal with Golden State would have to include rebounding machine Andris Biedrins contract. A package of Biedrins, Randolph, and Ronny Turiaf/Vladimir Radmanovic would work...assuming the Warriors refuse to hand over Curry, an asset Phoenix would undoubtedly pursue in return.
The catch is Stoudemire's preference—that of an NBA contender. Golden State is anything but that even with Stoudemire (would a real franchise player think he couldn't elevate the team to contender status with Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, and even Stephen Curry?).
Also, the Warriors would want reassurance that Stoudemire would be more than just a half-season rental. Given those two caveats, this best-case scenario deal probably won't happen.
Apparently Minnesota cares more about the functionality of their triangle offense under Kurt Rambis than keeping one of the NBA's handful of double-double men in Al Jefferson.
That's the reasoning behind their recent shopping of Jefferson, anyway. With Kevin Love under "untouchable" status, Jefferson is a must in any deal between the two teams involving Stoudemire.
Questions abound, however. Low post threat that he is, would Jefferson be able to co-exist with the up tempo Suns? Or would Phoenix's brain trust be willing to reconstruct the offense around Jefferson?
And does Minnesota really believe Stoudemire would grasp the triangle better than Jefferson? The offense involves passing and unselfishness—two traits that have never been lauded on behalf of the man nicknamed STAT.
Stoudmire makes more than Jefferson, making a straight up swap impossible under the cap rules. But would Minnesota give up more than Jefferson to get Stoudemire? Maybe just an expiring contract, like Brian Cardinal or Oleksiy Pecherov, would do it.
Again, though, there's no guarantee Stoudmire would want to play permanently for a cellar-dweller in the cold north, thus cooling Minnesota's fever to acquire him.
Mo Williams? Inconsistent. Shaquille O'Neal? Old and declining.
Amare Stoudmire? Now you're talking.
At least, that's what LeBron James would think, after having No. 3 or No. 4 guys masquerading as his numero dos. He needs a real star at his side. Considering James' unselfishness and Stoudemire's un-franchise-player-like qualities, this may be the perfect marriage Cleveland has been frantically searching for.
The big question is what Cleveland could offer that Phoenix would want. Unfortunately for Suns fans, the answer is savings under the cap.
According to Paul Coro on azcentral.com, a package of Zydrunas Ilgauskus' expiring contract (who they would waive for more savings), plus young forward J.J. Hickson and a couple draft picks would suffice.
Is Suns owner Bob Sarver that concerned about his bank account? Would he sacrifice any pretense to contention to save some cash and alienate an already irritated fan base?
The scary answer is, he might—and hand Cleveland a dynasty in the process.
It seems we've been hearing forever that Chicago needs a low-post presence (hey, Eddy Curry was relevant the last time they had a low-post presence).
Chicago was one team mentioned by Yahoo as interested in acquiring Stoudemire. This deal would've been easier a year ago—Joakhim Noah wasn't untouchable and the Bulls were desperate.
Now? Noah won't be included in any deal, leaving Tyrus Thomas as Stoudemire's poor-man replacement. A package of Thomas and Luol Deng, plus maybe a draft pick to sweeten the deal, might work for both teams.
Amare's contender requirement might be met by playing with Derrick Rose, Noah, and John Salmons.
The Suns? Thomas and Deng wouldn't look too bad in Nash's running game, and would provide more defense than the departed Stoudemire.
This may simply come down to both teams having the gumption to pull the trigger.
With Wade being quiet about his upcoming free agency, Miami (mentioned by Yahoo as another Stoudemire suitor) may be Cleveland-desperate to get their superstar an adequate sidekick.
Problem is, Miami's assets are almost as bleak as Cleveland's. Michael Beasley would be the young stud included. Jermaine O'Neal's contract is even more bloated than Stoudemire's, to the point that Phoenix would actually need to include another player in the deal, such as Leandro Barbosa.
So assuming O'Neal is a no-go, a package of Beasley, Quentin Richardson (nostalgia, anyone?), and Dorell Wright/James Jones would work under the cap. A draft pick may need to be included for Phoenix to bite.
Is Miami willing to give up basically all of their trade-able assets for one Amare Stoudmire? Do they think Amare, with Wade, O'Neal, and Mario Chalmers is enough to make a run and keep Wade?
And is the mercurial Beasley, a watered down Q-Rich and a bag of peanuts enough compensation for Phoenix?
The guess here is there are too many variations of "what's it worth to you?" for this deal to go through.
Philly was mentioned as another possible destination for Stoudemire by Yahoo. How much meat there is to these destinations isn't known by yours truly, but again, we're investigating how worthwhile it would be for both teams to look into this.
The Sixers would love to unload Elton Brand, who plainly hasn't worked out for them. It might be intriguing for Phoenix (and their medical staff), but the Suns will surely want the younger and more athletic Andre Iguodala instead.
Young Suns killer Marreese Speights, with Iguodala, might be enough to appease the "best possible offer" for the Suns. With Iguodala running the wing or even playing the "four" in their high-octane offense, and Speights cleaning the glass, the Suns may find themselves a deal they want.
Problem is, that would leave the Sixers with Elton Brand coming off the bench. They may seek to unload him, but it's another case of "is it worth it?" If Philly allows themselves to picture Stoudemire with Sam Dalembert (rebounding and shot-blocking to make up for Stoudemire's lack thereof) and Thaddeus Young up front, they may convince themselves it is, in fact, worth it.
This Yahoo-mentioned scenario has to be complete hot air. Since the Nets were mentioned, however, it's required ridicule must be rendered.
New Jersey has one player the Suns would want—Brooke Lopez. Too bad that's the one player New Jersey will not, under any condition, give up.
Devin Harris is their second-best player. Devin Harris plays the same position as Steve Nash. So he's out too.
That leaves a package of Bobby Simmons' expiring contract, Terrence Williams, Yi Jianlian, and Josh Boone and/or a draft pick (I left out Courtney Lee, because 1) the Nets will want to keep him too and 2) the Suns already have Jason Richardson and Leandro Barbosa).
That has to be the [expletive] package ever assembled for an All-Star since the Pau Gasol trade. Ever. The end.
(The worst part is that Suns fans wouldn't be completely surprised if Sarver pulled the trigger—just angry).