As the Phoenix Suns engage in trade discussions with several teams for Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) – including negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers – general manager Steve Kerr has been exchanging contract extension proposals with the All-Star’s agent, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The Suns made a multiyear offer last week, and Stoudemire’s representative, Happy Walters, replied with a counterproposal over the weekend. It is unclear what the Suns offered, but Stoudemire is believed to be using the three-year, $57 million extension Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol(notes) received this season as a framework for talks. There’s no indication the Suns’ offer has given Stoudemire pause about wanting to stay long-term with the team.
Nothing in the offer indicates that Stoudemire and the Suns are anywhere near an agreement. Stoudemire can opt out of his current contract’s $17.7 million final season and become part of this summer’s free-agent class. As much as anything, this appears to be motivation for the Suns to find a trading partner.
The Cavaliers have emerged as serious bidders for Stoudemire, and here’s a good reason for their pursuit: When presented with several trade proposals, LeBron James(notes) preferred Stoudemire, a league source said. It isn’t clear how center Shaquille O’Neal(notes) feels about the possibility of a Stoudemire deal. The two didn’t mesh well in Phoenix, where Stoudemire struggled to find space alongside Shaq.
The Cavs would probably have to part with a package that includes center Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes), forward J.J. Hickson(notes) and a possible first-round draft pick. Cleveland is also engaged in discussions for several forwards, including Washington’s Antawn Jamison(notes) and Indiana’s Troy Murphy(notes).
Privately, Stoudemire’s preferred destination is the Miami Heat, where he could pair with superstar Dwyane Wade(notes) in a far more warmer climate. Heat president Pat Riley has been relentless in his desire to make a deal for Stoudemire. He’s made available everyone on his roster but Wade, and yet it appears Miami’s offers simply aren’t attractive to the Suns.
What doesn’t hurt Cleveland’s chances to land Stoudemire is the relationship between the two GMs: Kerr and Cleveland’s Danny Ferry. They were teammates with the San Antonio Spurs and remain close friends. Over the past two years, the Suns have been sellers and the Cavs buyers, and they’ve been able to do business together – including last summer’s Shaq trade.