Here’s another little talked about reason to pursue Amare Stoudemire at the trade deadline: it eliminates the potential for the Cavaliers to get him. Cleveland is perhaps the front-runner at the moment for Stoudemire’s services; they have no chance to get him in free agency.
If the Cavs land Stoudemire, you’d have to think they become the clear-cut favorites to reach the N.B.A. finals. And not just this year, but perhaps for the next half decade. Even assuming the Heat would be successful in acquiring Chris Bosh on the free agent market, could a Wade/Beasley/Bosh trio – coupled with ten at or near minimum contract players – ever truly compete with the Cavaliers of today plus Amare?
Ask yourself that question honestly. What’s it worth to you to ensure that doesn’t happen? Micheal Beasley? A first round draft pick?
There are a couple of things working in the Heat’s favor.
First, Amare wants a 3-year / $55+ million contract. The Cavs will certainly not extend him for anywhere near that amount unless James extends first. James is not going to extend. He leaves too much money on the table by not signing a new contract in the offseason. Under C.B.A. rules, James could be extended for a total of four seasons beyond the current, versus six in a new contract. Thus, Miami will still have the opportunity to lure James away. But if Cavs follows through and win an N.B.A. title this season, and they control Stoudemire’s bird rights, it could be a very tough sell.
Second, Stoudemire reportedly wants to play in the warm weather of Miami. That could help in the offseason. But with the Heat focused on others – namely James and Bosh – and Stoudemire’s demands exceeding his value, he could take offense and decide to ink a new contract with James & Co.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we’re trying to do that we miss what’s happening around us. The Heat’s pursuit of Stoudemire could well be nothing more than the logic result of game theory.
Whether the Heat can do anything to stop it is a different story.