The trade deadline is roughly one month away, so discussions about who's available and what it would take to pry them off a roster are about to get hot and heavy. Between now and Feb. 21, you're going to hear a lot a names being thrown around. That's how it works. There's no way to know who is untouchable and who isn't unless you ask, right?
Sources around the league have told CBSSports.com that there are internal discussions being held in Phoenix regarding the availability of star center Amare Stoudemire, who can opt out of his current deal following the 2009-10 season. According to sources, there is one faction within the organization willing to deal the two-time All-Star, while another is dead set against it.
|Will block machine Amare Stoudemire be involved in a blockbuster? (Getty Images)|
While Stoudemire has improved as a defender, whispers that his increasing frustration with not being the focal point of the team's fast-paced offense have become a distraction -- and could be a reason some within the organization would be willing to move him if the right offer comes along.
Shawn Marion asked for a trade in the offseason, but the Suns have been more than satisfied with his professional approach. He has been as consistent as ever, again leading the team in rebounding despite playing away from his natural position of small forward while also serving as the team's defensive stopper, guarding everyone from point guards to power forwards. He's as invaluable as Steve Nash is to Phoenix's style.
Tuesday's disappointing 97-90 loss to the L.A. Clippers was the Suns' second in three games. It was also their lowest-scoring performance with Nash, Stoudemire and Marion all in the lineup since last year's Game 3 loss to the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, the only game they dropped in that series.
Something is obviously amiss, and chemistry seems to be the major issue. So where does this leave Stoudemire? Even those in favor of shipping him out know he's among the most feared big men in the game, so getting back equal value is a must, regardless of how badly the Suns need a facelift. If GM Steve Kerr is swayed to make a move, it will definitely take someone along the lines of Memphis' Pau Gasol or Toronto's Chris Bosh to get a deal accomplished.
Chicago might be willing to dangle Luol Deng and some of its younger big men, but that type of deal would set the Suns back, as far as their championship aspirations are concerned. The same goes for Milwaukee, which has young bargaining chips in Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva to pair with Michael Redd in a blockbuster package.
What would stop Phoenix from dealing Stoudemire?
Common sense: He's 25 and an All Star
Inability to get equal value in return
Total Votes: 536
The sweepstakes before last season's deadline centered on landing Allen Iverson from Philly; numerous names were floated as potential trade pieces, with as much as two-thirds of the NBA involved in exploratory talks. If Phoenix is willing to part with Stoudemire, a similar situation could ensue. He'd be the biggest name available and not Tracy McGrady, who was right to laugh off rumors that he's on the next flight out of Houston. That's not the case, in part because the Rockets wouldn't get full value, given his current knee issues.
Here are other players who should be in close contact with their agents over the coming month, because the word is out that they're available in the right deal:
Gasol, Memphis: If the Stoudemire situation winds up producing little more than water-cooler talk, Gasol could wind up being the biggest name dealt. He was one of the big fish discussed last year after declaring he wanted out of Memphis, and he remains a coveted piece due to his size, skill and, most important, the fact the Grizzlies haven't declared him untouchable.
"I live in Chicago and all they talk about up there is getting Pau. So he must be pretty valuable. He's a great post guy. But by discussing him I don't mean we're out there shopping them. If we trade one of our guys, we've got to get a lot back that's good," owner Michael Heisley told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
"It's interesting that we sit around talking about the possibly trading Pau and nobody finds anything wrong with that. But when Pau says, 'Hey, maybe I'd like to go to a contending team,' then he's disloyal to do that. I never took it that way."