The Portland Trail Blazers have made a strong play for Amare Stoudemire, discussing a package that includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, and Raef LaFrentz's $12.7 million expiring contract, a person with direct knowledge of the talks told CBSSports.com Tuesday.
The Blazers, among the most active teams in the league as the Feb. 19 trade deadline draws near, have joined Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Toronto, Golden State, and New Jersey among a growing list of teams that have discussed acquiring Stoudemire from the Suns.
Several team executives told CBSSports.com that no clear front-runner has emerged as Suns president Steve Kerr tries to extract the best possible offer for Stoudemire, whose stock has fallen as Phoenix continues to struggle in its adjustment to a new style under coach Terry Porter. The Raptors are "pushing hard," one exec said, but at this point want to pair Stoudemire with Chris Bosh and continue to rebuff any trade proposals that include parting with the team's cornerstone. Bosh has a player option after next season and can become one of the headliners in the 2010 free-agent class.
The Blazers lost any chance of being a major player in free agency this summer when Darius Miles came out of medical retirement and joined the Memphis Grizzlies. Losing $9 million of cap space they thought they'd have, the Blazers are looking to make their splash now via the trade route. The Blazers have four extra second-round picks in the next two drafts to offer, plus the rights to British big man Joel Freeland, taken by Portland with the 30th pick in the 2006 draft. Freeland, playing for Gran Canaria of the Spanish League, is part of the discussion between the Blazers and Suns, the person with knowledge of the talks said.
UPDATE: One factor complicating matters, according to a team executive who has spoken with the Suns, is an apparent difference of opinion between Kerr and managing partner Robert Sarver as far as what Phoenix hopes to get back in a Stoudemire trade. Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and Leandro Barbosa are viewed as untouchable in any trade talks with the Suns. It is not known if any of those players is the source of disagreement between Kerr and Sarver.