PHOENIX – Believing that Amare Stoudemire could make the difference with winning an NBA title and ultimately keeping LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a bid to the Phoenix Suns for the All-Star power forward, two league sources familiar with the offer said Friday.
Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry offered the expiring contract of Wally Szczerbiak, rookie J.J. Hickson and a first-round pick for Stoudemire earlier in the week, sources said. Anderson Varejao was mentioned in a possible scenario too, sources said.
Nevertheless, the proposal has generated little enthusiasm out of Suns GM Steve Kerr.
When asked about the Cavaliers' interest in Stoudemire on Friday, Ferry texted to Yahoo! Sports, "No discussions at this time."
Odds are, the Cavaliers and Suns would need to find a third team to get Stoudemire in the frontcourt with James.
As the Cavaliers try to find more size to compete with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers for a title, league sources say they're intrigued with Los Angeles Clippers center Marcus Camby. League executives say that the Clippers have been actively trying to unload payroll.
Chicago is still considered a strong contender in the Eastern Conference, but one source familiar with the team's discussions says there hasn't been a lot of back-and-forth with the Suns in the past 48 hours.
League executives still believe Memphis can be a major factor should owner Michael Heisley relent on taking back the money on Stoudemire's contract. Sacramento has made a series of overtures on Stoudemire – with discussions at the ownership level. Also, the Kings have the intriguing asset of a pick that could turn into the No. 1 selection in the June draft. The Suns are talking with multiple teams, but still haven't been blown away with any offer for Stoudemire.
The Cavaliers haven't heard back from the Suns since midweek, sources say. For the Suns, Cleveland's offer is flawed. Varejao is an excellent defender and rebounder, but struggles to score. His value is much greater on a good team than a rebuilding program. Hickson was the Cavaliers' first-round pick out of North Carolina State, a talented but raw 20-year-old rookie power forward. He's still far from an impact player Also, the Cavs' draft pick will be late in the first round.
What still worries rivals NBA executives about Cleveland's ability to work a deal for Stoudemire is the close relationship between Ferry and Kerr. They're extremely tight and alumni of the San Antonio Spurs have a history of doing deals amongst themselves. For now, the Cavaliers seem content to let Phoenix solicit offers between now and Thursday's trade deadline, and see if somehow they could revisit the Stoudemire derby. Most teams are wondering just how desperate the Suns are to lower payroll and how dramatically that will affect the caliber of talent and salary they'll bring back for Stoudemire.