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.
This season, Stoudemire is blocking shots with a regularity we've never seen from him. He has blocked at least one shot in every game since Nov. 28, and his current average of 2.2 is easily the highest of his six seasons.
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.