Sources: Teams sweeten Amare offers

While Cleveland has zeroed in on Amare Stoudemire, it benefits the Suns to let the process play out until the last hours before Thursday's deadline.

Sources with knowledge of the negotiations said Saturday night that the Cavs and Suns were in serious talks about a deal that would send Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson to Phoenix in exchange for Stoudemire, one of the league's most dominant big man.

Stoudemire is averaging 21.2 points and 8.6 rebounds on the season.

But reports that the five-time All-Star Stoudemire could be headed to Cleveland have led other clubs to spice up their offers to Phoenix, according to sources.

The ball is now in Phoenix's court.

The Suns are mulling over whether the financial relief provided by Ilgauskas' $12 million contract -- they'll likely waive Ilgauskas after the trade -- and the young and talented Hickson are enough for them to part with an impact player like Stoudemire.

And the Cavaliers have to be fairly certain that Stoudemire would be willing to re-sign with them before giving up the fast-improving Hickson.

However, according to sources, Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala, appears to be the Suns' top choice.

So far, the Sixers have been leery of giving up their best player for Stoudemire.

While Stoudemire has good relationships with LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal, some close to Stoudemire believe Miami -- where he lives during the summer -- is his first choice.

Miami has pursued Stoudemire hard but has no one on its roster (besides Dwyane Wade) that interests Phoenix, according to sources. That includes Michael Beasley. So it would take a three-team deal for Stoudemire to be traded to the Heat.

Of course, Cleveland can also pursue three-team deals that would sweeten the offer for Phoenix.

Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.