Do the Spurs want to re-sign Stoudemire to a contract extension and swell their payroll?
Do they believe Stoudemire could be the difference for their fifth championship?
All questions with no clear answers for the Spurs – yet.
Nevertheless, the possibility of an athletic, offensive force like Stoudemire has become too irresistible to easily dismiss. The Spurs (25-18) have lost five of their past six games, and have fallen into sixth place in the Western Conference.
“They know they’ve got to do something,” says a source familiar with the front office’s thinking. “They feel like they’ve got to at least look at this … and they are.”
The Miami Heat are exploring the possibility of a deal, but Pat Riley also knows he can keep Dwyane Wade(notes) and sign Stoudemire as a free agent this summer. Miami’s president doesn’t have to make a trade now. Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Detroit and Minnesota are among other teams with an interest with Stoudemire.
For Phoenix and San Antonio, there could be a different urgency. The Suns are motivated to move Stoudemire out of a growing belief they’ll never come to terms with him on a contract extension. Stoudemire can opt out of the $17.7 million owed him next season. Suns owner Robert Sarver has been in constant cost-cutting mode, and although he does want to keep Stoudemire, it’s become increasingly unlikely that will happen.
The Spurs need a young, athletic frontcourt complement for an aging Duncan. Despite taking on significant payroll this summer in moves for Richard Jefferson(notes) and Antonio McDyess(notes), it’s become clearer to the Spurs that their frontline is still ill-equipped to overthrow the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Spurs have always maintained an interest in Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh(notes), a Texas native, but Raptors’ general manager Bryan Colangelo has yet to show a strong inclination to trade his star before his impending free agency this summer.
As painful as it would be for the franchise and fans, the Spurs could try to part with Ginobili and his $10.8 million expiring contract to make a package work. What about burgeoning young guard George Hill(notes), a Gregg Popovich favorite? The Spurs also own the rights to one of the best young centers in Europe, Tiago Splitter(notes), whom a source says could leave the Spanish League to get to the NBA next season.
Many league executives wonder, too: Would the Suns be adverse to trading such a major talent to a longstanding Western Conference rival? Perhaps, but understand the market for Stoudemire is somewhat limited because so many teams don’t want to part with well-regarded assets and draft picks for what could amount to be a rent-a-player for this season.
Almost all teams would want assurance they could re-sign Stoudemire. Given the All-Star’s stated desire to play for a championship contender, staying with the Spurs wouldn’t seem to be the most difficult sell.