Miami Heat president Pat Riley has emerged as one of the most determined pursuers of Phoenix Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire(notes), proposing several different packages that make available any of his players short of Dwyane Wade(notes), league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Heat have discussed several scenarios with the Suns, including packages that include combinations of young players (Michael Beasley(notes), Dorell Wright(notes)) and expiring contracts (Jermaine O'Neal(notes) and Quentin Richardson(notes)). The Heat are also willing to part with their 2010 first-round draft pick.
''Nobody is pushing harder on this than Riley,'' one league source said.
The Suns are believed to be in discussions with as many as six teams, although more may yet show themselves before the Feb. 18 trade deadline. The Philadelphia 76ers remain involved, but have rejected the Suns’ attempts to attach guard Jason Richardson(notes) to a larger package that would include Samuel Dalembert(notes) and Andre Iguodala(notes).
The Suns don't want to lose Stoudemire for nothing if he opts out of the $17.6 million on the final year of his contract. It's doubtful whether the Suns and Stoudemire can reach agreement on a contract extension, and the clock is clearly ticking on Suns owner Robert Sarver and GM Steve Kerr.
League sources say the Suns are dubious the Heat can present the best possible package for Stoudemire, and aren't enamored with any of the combinations. Still, Miami is near, or at, the top of Stoudemire's preferred destinations and he would assuredly sign an extension to play with Wade there. Several suitors have been frightened away from seriously bidding on Stoudemire, because they don't want to give up valued assets for a short-term rental. The Suns are taking a gamble should they keep Stoudemire past the trade deadline.
As the Heat struggle, Riley is motivated to get a complementary frontcourt star to persuade Wade to re-sign with Miami this summer. Riley knows Wade is frustrated with the Heat's struggles. Miami is clinging to the eight playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and ended a five-game losing streak on Tuesday with a victory over the Houston Rockets.
Riley doesn't want to wait until the summer to get into the free-agent chase when he could try to sign Stoudemire to a contract.