By: Steve Kyler
Making A Decision on Amar'e: The Phoenix Suns are expected to make the firing of Terry Porter official today,
and will then name Alvin Gentry the interim head coach. Word is Suns'
owner Robert Sarver put Porter's firing in motion himself and attempted
to pressure GM Steve Kerr into coaching, but was convinced, according
to sources near the situation, to name Gentry as the next coach.
Gentry, a player favorite supposedly has committed to bring back the
"Fun and Gun" offense, which could change Phoenix's plans with Amar'e
Stoudemire. After last night's All-Star Game, Stoudemire sounded
resigned to the idea that he would be traded and that it could happen
as early as today. League sources in Phoenix have hinted that the long
rumored deal between the Suns and Chicago could get consummated as
early as today, a deal that would send the expiring contract of Drew
Gooden, Thabo Sefolosha and Tyrus Thomas to the Suns in exchange for
Amar'e Stoudemire. It's also believed that the Bulls would take on an
additional player using their $5.4 million dollar traded player
exception to help Phoenix reduce it's luxury tax exposure as the final
concession to getting a deal. Ironically, Bulls' forward Drew Gooden
was in Phoenix last night. Gooden smiled at the notion of a trade
saying he hadn't heard anything yet, but laughed when prodded if he was
looking for a new house in Phoenix. The Bulls seem to be the front
runners when and if the Suns make a deal. The Suns were doing a good
job with the PR spin in Phoenix, telling some reporters that the
pending coaching change could end trade talks involving Amar'e, but
league sources say too much has been done to say talks are dead. The
Suns do have other suitors who have expressed real interest in Amar'e
including the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are reported to have offered the
ending deal of Wally Szczerbiak and rookie J.J. Hickson. The
Philadelphia 76ers have been linked to the Suns as have the Portland
Trail Blazers who have been distancing themselves from Amar'e talks
recently and seem to have turned their sights to Richard Jefferson of
the Milwaukee Bucks - more on that as it develops.
The Thunder Making Noise: Oklahoma City Thunder forward Joe Smith is a very attractive piece to a playoff team, he brings not only experience and toughness, but his $5 million ending contract means Joe is very cheap to an acquiring team. Joe is in Phoenix and chatted a bit with HOOPSWORLD last night and confessed that he'd heard some of the rumors, but was honestly hoping a deal did not happen, saying he really enjoyed being in Oklahoma City and hinted he'd like to stay beyond this year. Thunder GM Sam Presti has been very active in talks and word is he may be closing in a Tyson Chandler trade with New Orleans. The deal as reported would send Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox who posses a $6 million ending deal as well, to the Hornets in exchange for Chandler. Presti told reporters in Phoenix that he has received dozens of calls this week and is sorting through offers for his ending contract guys and some of his future draft picks. The Thunder hold five draft picks in the next two years and those future assets might be enough to get the Thunder to take on a contract, assuming it's the right deal. The Thunder look poised to be very active in the next couple of days since they have a number of chips to cash.
Wade Liked The Deal: The Miami HEAT and Toronto Raptors finally triggered the Jermaine O'Neal/Shawn Marion trade. The Raptors were quick to say that acquiring Marion was not simply a salary cap move. Raptors' GM Bryan Colangelo says his club will try and reach a new deal with Marion. For the HEAT, Miami's All-Star Dwyane Wade sees the addition of Jermaine O'Neal as the answer to their low post scoring problems, and believes JO can help push the HEAT into the next level of the playoff discussion. Wade was also very excited about the addition of Jamario Moon. Raptors sources said the hold on the deal was Toronto's reluctance to include a first round draft pick, something Miami was adamant about obtaining. The compromise reached brought Miami it's pick, but returned enough cash in the deal that would allow Toronto to buy a pick if it so desired. It's possible the Raptors trigger another deal involving Anthony Parker or Joey Graham before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.