Stoudemire to the Heat?

It also solidified the Heat as the front runner to acquire Amar’e
Stoudemire from the Suns — if Phoenix decides to trade him. Rival
execs believe that to be a foregone conclusion due to the likelihood
that Stoudemire will not be able to work out a long-term agreement with
the Suns. Although Phoenix apparently is not thrilled with Miami’s
offer — which according to a source includes Michael Beasley and a
first-round pick — the Suns may have little choice but to go through
with the deal rather than have their 2010-11 cap space eaten up by
Stoudemire and/or lose him with no compensation. The Sixers, who have
been on the periphery of the Stoudemire discussions, were no longer
involved as of Wednesday night, sources said.

The Cavs’ pursuit of an All-Star caliber acquisition to pair with James for the stretch run — and, they hope, beyond — circled back to where it started a few weeks ago, when James told the front office he wanted to play with Jamison. The Wizards, at the time, were too much in flux to nail down the particulars, and then Cleveland became embroiled in two-front discussions that also saw them deeply involved with Phoenix for Stoudemire.

The Stoudemire situation, in which the Suns were trying to squeeze the best offer out of Cleveland or Miami, would’ve required the Cavs sending talented young big man J.J. Hickson in addition to Ilgauksas and their No. 1 pick. Due to Jamison’s age (33) and contract ($28.4 million remaining over the next two seasons), Cleveland wasn’t required to part with Hickson in the deal.

In any event, some elements of the Cavs’ hierarchy believed Jamison was a better fit for their team anyway. Stoudemire’s lack of defensive impact, combined with the fact that he didn’t pair well with Shaquille O’Neal, tipped to scames in Jamison’s favor. So did the fact that rival executives believe the Phoenix was more interested in Miami’s offer for Stoudemire, which would include a higher first-round pick — potentially in the lottery, depending on how the Heat finish the season.

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