The hot buzz around the NBA is that the Phoenix Suns are steeling themselves to trade dunk-machine Amare Stoudemire. Which means there's a slim chance (at least 1 in 30?) that the summer of 2010 could come early for the orange and blue-- if Donnie Walsh can somehow coerce Suns General Manager Steve Kerr into a deal.
On paper the Knicks should have as good a chance as most teams; they can satisfy the three biggest needs the Suns will have in making the trade. They also have one major strike against them that could prove to be a dealbreaker. Let's look at the variables:
1. Expiring Contract: If Phoenix trades Amare the primary impetus is money. The economy sucks (have you heard?), and the Suns don't look like contenders, so this is their throwing up of the white flag. First prerequisite for participation in the Stoudemire Sweepstakes is fiscal relif via an expiring contract. The Knicks have one they can't wait to cash in, Stephon Marbury.
2. Talent: Main thing the Suns need is money, but in dealing their superstar name-brand talent they will also need a young player they can sell the fans on for the future. It may be too much to ask for a budding superstar, but a young borderline-All Star type -- ideally a crowd pleaser who hustles and plays with energy -- should be sufficient. Oooh, look, the Knicks have one of those in David Lee! And they can even throw in video of the new guy dunking on the old guy. The Knicks can advance to the next round of Who Gets To Trade For Amare Stoudemire!
3. Other Conference: If they know what's good for them, the Suns will also want to see as little of the fiery and emotional Stoudemire as possible. That means sending him to the Eastern Conference where he can't help lead a direct competitor like the Lakers or Dallas to a title. New York wins again!
So in terms of the key ingredients it looks like the Knicks have what it takes to make a legitimate offer for the services of Amare. It may be that the Suns will prefer someone like Michael Beasley in Miami, Tyrus Thomas in Chicago, or even Easy Yi in New Jersey; but none of those guys are definitively better than Lee.
Unfortunately a big reason Amare himself would want to come to New York, will probably also nix any chance of a trade with the Suns: the presence of head coach Mike D'Antoni. With the Suns struggling in his absence, there's absolutely no way Kerr will want to be responsible for a Stoudemire-D'Antoni reunion tour; the blowback from the big man and coach he ran out of town (to get Shaq) setting the foundation for a new Suns-like NBA powerhouse in the East -- all while his own house crumbles -- would be too torturous to bear.