With the NBA trade deadline less than 24 hours away, rumors are intensifying around the league as teams are trying to unload contracts and bolster their rosters for the postseason run.
Big name players such as Andre Igoudala, Tracy McGrady, Carlos Boozer, Antwan Jamison, Tayshaun Prince, and Richard Hamilton have all been mentioned as possible trade bait.
But, no one's name has come up more than Phoenix Suns All-Star Amar'e Stoudamire.
With the Suns run at the top of the Western Conference all but over and with Stoudamire having the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of this season, Phoenix has been on the phones entertaining deals for the forward so they can get something in return for him.
The Heat and Cavs appear to be in a head-to-head battle for Stoudamire, with the Cavs willing to part ways with center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and JJ Hickson and Miami has offered several packages centered around Michael Beasley.
Although the Cavs have recently emerged as the favorites, league sources say that GM Pat Riley is one of the most determined pursuers.
"Nobody is pushing harder on this than Riley,” one league source said.
Miami has offered several packages of players, with sophomore Michael Beasley and future first round draft picks being the cornerstone of any deal. One possible scenario is Beasley and two draft picks for Stoudamire.
Another rumored scenario is the expiring contracts of Jermaine O'Neal and Quentin Richardson for Stoudamire, but Phoenix isn't intrigued by O'Neal and his hefty contract.
While these deals might sound enticing, I think this would be a horrible move on the Heat's part. They should stand pat and wait until the 2010 offseason before they make any major roster changes.
I feel this way for several reasons.
First of all, this sudden pursuit of Stoudamire comes in the midst of the roughest slate in the Heat's schedule. It comes at a time when Miami went on their longest losing streak of the year (five) right before the All-Star Break and plummeted in the standings. However, they have won three straight games since then and look to be gelling.
This trade appears to be more like a panic move than a smart and beneficial one for the Heat. Riley is pushing so hard for this in order to appease Dwyane Wade and secure his stars status in Miami. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just premature.
Remember, all this trade talk comes right after Wade's public comments expressing his frustration with the Heat's predictability and coaching decisions.
Wade commented on how the Heat should be better than their .500 record and the media ran away with the comments. Before the Heat's three game victory streak, Wade made headlines with his comments:
"We should be much better,'' Wade said. "I'm not going to say we should be No. 1 in the East. We can't blame nobody. We need to look across from each other and blame ourselves for being three games under .500.''
The most "alarming" quotes were the statements made about head coach Erik Spoelstra.
"You have to be a person willing to do it,'' Wade said. "I'm not sure if Coach wants us to do that. You have to have confidence that guys are going to make that change on the go...We also have to find a way to mix it up. Stop being a team everyone knows exactly what we're going to do.''
But, are these public outcries really that big of a deal?
Are they so bad that it means Miami has to pull the trigger on a risky deal just to satisfy Wade?
I don't think so.
These comments by Wade are a simple cry of frustration by the captain of a team who finally spoke up after a discouraging five-game loosing streak that hurt the team's morale. These comments are from a leader who wants his team to be better and knows that they are playing under expectations.
They are not comments by a disgruntled star that is hinting he will depart at season's end if the front office can't pull off a deal by the trade deadline. While Wade's main concern is winning, he realizes next year is the Heat's time when they have the ability to sign two maximum contract players and can become a real contender.
So, getting to the point of my story, the Heat does not need to acquire Stoudamire.
Stoudamire is an excellent player, but how much of an impact can he really make on this year's Heat squad?
The top of the Eastern Conference is already set and too strong to be overtaken by any middle-tier team. Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, and Atlanta hold a commanding lead in the standings and Miami would have a lot of ground to make up.
Even if the Heat does climb all the way back up the standings, can they realistically advance past the second round of the playoffs?
Can they upset a team like Cleveland or Orlando?
I don't think so.
Those teams are already established and a Wade-Stoudamire pairing is great offensively, but doesn't compare defensively to the elite teams.
This would be a major mid-season roster shakeup and Miami would have less than 30 games to find chemistry. And even with the addition of Stoudamire,the top-tier teams still have much deeper rosters than the Heat.
Additionally, the loss of Beasley is troublesome. The Heat shouldn't risk loosing a budding star that has the potential to be a perennial All-Star. Beasley is so young and has undoubtedly improved his skills this year. His stat line has almost increased across the board and he looks a lot smarter and matured this season.
Plus, Miami could keep Beasley and still acquire Stoudamire via free agency in the offseason. The Heat are one of the most exciting teams entering free agency because they have numerous options. If they don't make a deal this year, they have the cap space to sign two maximum contract players along with resigning Wade.
If they deal for Stoudamire now, even more options become available.
If he chooses to enact his player option for next year, the Heat will have enough cap space to resign Wade and another high-level player. If he opts out, which is the more likely scenario, he can sign a long term deal in the $13 to $15 million range, and Miami will be able to retain Wade and sign a LeBron James or Joe Johnson.
The possibilities are endless for the Heat, but I think they should play it safe and hold on to Beasley.
Contrary to reports, Miami Heat owner Micky Arison told the Miami Herald that Beasley is not on the block.
"I know I've read about him being put out there. I can tell you this: We have not put him out there. The media has. We like Michael and see him as a part of our core going forward."
However, it seems more like the Suns are reluctant to take Beasley and are more impressed with the Cavaliers offer. Miami has also explored getting a third team involved in order to sweeten the deal for Phoenix, but the Suns want to wait until they get the best possible offer before they depart with their superstar.
Either way, it appears Stoudamire will be packing his bags tomorrow and will be in a new uniform. If he does end up in South Beach, it will be exciting to see the offensive powerhouse that Miami could become with both Stoudamire and Wade. But, I would rather the Heat keep Beasley and let the season play out.
While this deal is geared to keep Wade happy and ensure his long-term status in Miami, it should be known that Wade is still happy in Miami and has stated numerous times he wants to remain with the team. His sole desire is to win and compete for championships, which he will do regardless of what the Heat do before the trade deadline.
So, why not wait, keep Beasley, and make a splash in the free agent pool in the offseason?
It's because a team that features Wade, another superstar, and Beasley is better than a team without Beasley.
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