On Sunday, ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns had seriously discussed a trade that would send Amare Stoudemire to Cleveland for J.J. Hickson (and the expiring contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskas). As Broussard reported, the Cavs had made the offer and the ball was in Phoenix's court.
In the meantime, I’ve spoken to sources connected to the Cavs, the Suns and other teams around the league, and while they confirm that the Stoudemire trade discussions between Cleveland and Phoenix are at a serious stage, they also describe a fluid situation, with trade discussions taking place on multiple fronts.
Here is what I’m hearing as of early Monday:
For the Suns, the Stoudemire-Hickson trade would be something of a last resort. The Suns have been hoping to land more than just Hickson and financial relief for Stoudemire.
In particular, the Suns are still holding out hope that Philadelphia will come to the table and agree to a deal sending Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert to Phoenix. The Suns have sweetened their offer to the 76ers by including Leandro Barbosa in a package with Stoudemire. Also possible is a three-way trade that would send Hickson and Barbosa (along with Ilgauskas) to Philly, Stoudemire to Cleveland and Iguodala and Dalembert to Phoenix.
Expect the Suns to turn up the heat significantly on the Sixers on Monday.
The Miami Heat remain very interested in Stoudemire and are trying to find a third team to help improve their offer to Phoenix. Though Amare is amenable to going to Cleveland, Miami is his first choice.
Meanwhile, Cleveland remains interested in obtaining either Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards or Troy Murphy of the Indiana Pacers. According to an official from one of those two teams, the Cavs said on Sunday that a Stoudemire trade was not a done deal and the team was still evaluating its options.
Even if the Cavs get Stoudmire, they might attempt do a secondary trade to obtain Jamison or Murphy to fill the need for a 4 who could stretch the floor with his shooting.
Given that the Cavs have concerns about well Stoudemire and Shaquille O’Neal would fit together, the team would consider moving Shaq if it acquired Amare. For instance, the Cavs could swap O’Neal and their first-round pick to Washington for Jamison and Mike Miller. They could send the same package to Indiana in a deal for Murphy and Mike Dunleavy.
One surprising note: According to a source, Amare's agent has yet to be contacted by the Cavs. Since Stoudemire has an early termination clause in his contract, it’s possible that Cleveland is willing to acquire Stoudemire without assurances that he will stay with the Cavs beyond this season. Still, one should expect the Cavs to gather some sort of intel on Stoudemire’s wishes.
As has been speculated, if the Suns do acquire Ilgauskas, they would likely waive him, which would open the door for him to return to Cleveland after a 30-day wait.