The amount of information and disinformation flying around is at a fever pitch as teams jostle for position in escalating trade talks. The Cavaliers, as would be expected, are right in the middle of it.
According to multiple sources, over the past few days the Cavs have had advancing talks with the Phoenix Suns about All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire. It is not the only player they have interest in -- there are still long-term-target forwards Antawn Jamison of Washington and Troy Murphy of the Pacers out there -- but it seems the Cavs are focusing on Stoudemire.
The Cavs are believed to still have talks open with the Pacers for Murphy and the Wizards for Jamison, plus options for three-team deals. But sources indicated the Stoudemire talks were the most advanced.
It is a bit of a surprising attraction. While there's a chance the Cavs could pick up a former first-teamer in a money-based deal, Stoudemire and O'Neal didn't have great on-court chemistry when they played in Phoenix for parts of the past two seasons. O'Neal and LeBron James have said they are happy with the current makeup of the team, though that, too, could be a smokescreen.
"I've been a part of trade deadlines and guys moving in an out," James said. "I don't get caught up in it much until it actually happens or if it is serious. There's some great players out there."
The Suns are believed to like Cavaliers forward J.J. Hickson, whom they considered drafting in 2008 and is currently having a breakout sophomore season. The Cavs, however, have been reluctant to include Hickson in trade talks.
The Cavs have several other ways to get the deal done, including the expiring contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskas or a sign-and-trade with guard Wally Szczerbiak.
The Arizona Republic reported earlier this week that teams who were talking to the Suns about Stoudemire also were being asked to take on guard Jason Richardson, who is owed $14.4 million next season. It isn't clear whether Richardson is involved in the talks with the Cavs or with a third team the Cavs might be recruiting.
Even with having to take on Jason Richardson (who, like Delonte West and Damon Jones, would join the Cavs after being on the wrong end of LeBron's highlights), I'm still very much in favor of trading for Amare. I understand not wanting to mess with this squad's chemistry, but you don't turn away 20-10 big men in their prime. Trading for Stoudemire is as much about this season as it is the future. Having Amare on the roster, who looks less and less likely to opt out of the final year of his current deal (I don't see anyone giving him $17 million this summer, do you?), should help the Cavs with retaining the services of one LeBron James.
All that being said, part of me wonders if this Amare leak is all part of a high stakes game of chicken being played between the Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards.
The Cavs really don't want to part with J.J. in most deals and the Wizards really don't want to trade with the Cavs. The Cavs are aware of Washington's demands and vice versa. They are stuck.
So then yesterday morning, Yahoo! floats a rumor that Washington was considering trading both Jamison AND Caron Butler to the Boston Celtics for straight cap relief. I wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a bluff: "Oh yea, you won't part with Hickson? Fine, we'll just trade both of our good players to the Celtics for cap relief. How would you like that?!"
But it looks like the Boston-Washington deal is dead and it appears Bulter will be heading to Dallas, which means Washington doesn't have a deal ready for Jamison (the Celtics, with Kevin Garnett and Sheed, aren't exactly in the market for another aging power forward).
So now it's time for Danny Ferry to turn to up the pressure: "You won't trade us Jamison because we beat you in the first round (and other dumb reasons)? Fine. We'll just go trade for Amare Stoudemire and you can eat the $30 million left on Jamison's deal. Enjoy losing both money and games, dumbasses."
But who knows. According to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cavs are debating between Amare and Antawn:
Cavs front office internally debating merits of trading for Amar'e Stoudemire vs Antawn Jamison. Not much on line --only franchise's future.
Yowza. Kinda sounds like the Cavs already have deals in place, but this is from Twitter, so some nuance could be lost within those 140 characters.
Myself, I'm cool with them trading for Jamison or Stoudemire. Both represent a significant upgrade to J.J. Hickson and either could push the Cavs over that Championship hump.
That being said, each guy comes with his own set of (very different) issues.
Jamison seems like he'd be the easier fit. He's a stretch 4 and could slide in next to Shaq and hit all those open jumpers (could you imagine the Magic daring Jamison to shoot, as they did Hickson? I can't.). He'd be less likely to cause any waves and the Cavs wouldn't have change up the offense too much. Jamison could very well be that missing Championship piece.
Jamison's minuses come after this season. He has two more years on his deal (roughly $30 million) and he'll turn 34 this June. Jamison's salary will make it hard for the Cavs to add talent down the road and they don't want three of their four rotational bigs to be past the age of 34 when LeBron hits the free agent market (which is why the Cavs are balking at including Hickson in any Jamison deal).
Stoudemire is nearly the exact opposite. Trading for Amare would drastically change the dynamic of the Cavalier offense; Stoudemire is a legit post presence and the Cavs will have to run at least some plays for him. However, the Cavs currently sit atop the Eastern Conference and have a seven(!!) game lead over the second place Magic, so they have some room to experiment if they need to (I'll be honest, I love the idea having Amare against Orlando. He'd abuse Rashard Lewis and because of Shaq, Howard can't switch).
Plus, adding the 27 year old Stoudemire (especially if he doesn't walk away from $17 mil) to a core of Mo Williams (27), Anderson Varejao (27) and Delonte West (26) gives the Cavs a nice, young roster to show LeBron this summer. You don't mind parting with Hickson in an Amare deal, since Stoudemire is young himself.
I'd be thrilled with the addition of either guy, at this point I'm leaning towards Amare. Yes, I'd miss J.J. and I'm not thrilled with adding Richardson, but when have a chance to add a young big man with 20-10 skills (despite the risks), you take it. I don't think the Cavs can go wrong with Stoudemire or Jamison (and I'm OK with them standing pat too), but like Wojnarowski said, the only thing on the line is the franchise's future.
Good luck, Danny, no pressure.
Cross-posted at LeBrownsTown.com