After recent discussions with Amar’e Stoudemire’s(notes) agent that didn’t appear to destine a contract extension, the Phoenix Suns have increased their efforts to trade the All-Star forward, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday night.
League executives say the Suns have become more active initiating talks over the past few days, and believe the franchise will take the best offer for Stoudemire before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons are among multiple teams that have a strong interest in Stoudemire, sources say. The Arizona Republic reported Sunday night that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have also inquired about Stoudemire.
Suns general manager Steve Kerr met with Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, on Thursday, and league sources say there was little sense an agreement could be reached before the trade deadline. With Stoudemire able to opt out of the final $17.7 million season of his contract, the Suns don’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.
As they did when shopping Stoudemire last season, the Suns want a combination of young talent, salary-cap relief and draft picks for him. Some teams are hesitant to trade for Stoudemire for fear he won’t want to re-sign with them this summer. The Minnesota Timberwolves lead that group of teams, sources say. The Wolves are mostly eyeing small forwards, including the Memphis Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay(notes), the Bulls’ Luol Deng(notes) and the Washington Wizards’ Caron Butler(notes). No one is untouchable on the Wolves roster, sources say.
With Stoudemire having undergone knee and eye surgeries in recent years, there are differing perspectives on his market value. Nevertheless, Stoudemire has made a strong comeback from eye surgery this season – averaging 20.9 points and 8.6 rebounds – and impressed rival executives and scouts. Stoudemire has been inclined to use Pau Gasol’s(notes) three-year, $57 million contract extension as a parameter for negotiations, and more than one league executive believes that circumstances will result in Stoudemire getting richly rewarded this summer.
If LeBron James(notes) and Dwyane Wade(notes) don’t leave Cleveland and Miami this summer, teams like Chicago, New York and New Jersey may be apt to turn to Stoudemire as an alternative. After James and Wade, Stoudemire is part of a second tier of free-agent stars with Toronto’s Chris Bosh(notes) and Atlanta’s Joe Johnson(notes).
“Someone will pay him the max – or very close,” one Western Conference executive predicted.
As it stands now, it appears unlikely that will be the Phoenix Suns.