Cash concerns crunch Amare

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

A franchise building block who excels on basketball's block, Amare Stoudemire has heard his name mentioned in rumoured deals involving as many as seven teams.

At last count, anyway.

Whether he gets moved prior to next Thursday's NBA trade deadline is a question that likely won't get answered until 3 p.m. strikes on Feb. 19.

The bottom line behind the mounting Stoudemire speculation literally is the bottom line.

He knows it as do the many teams that covet the enigmatic Phoenix Suns power forward, whose mental makeup never has matched his physical prowess.

"I think it's all about what they want to do and what they're trying to do financially," Stoudemire said about the Suns' intentions. "I think their main focus is their financial intake."

In an economic climate where every penny counts, NBA teams not named the New York Knicks are determined not to exceed the league's luxury tax threshold of roughly $71.2-million US.

The Suns exceed that total by about $4.6 million. The penalty for violating the threshold is a dollar-for-dollar tax. Stoudemire earns $15 million this season and can opt out of his deal for the much anticipated summer of 2010.

In the days leading up to next Thursday, deals will be made given the amount of talk circulating throughout the league and the many rumours that actually have substance.

Teams will be retooling or rebuilding. A tweak will be made here and a radical move likely is to be made there.

But there also is a financial component, a factor not lost on Stoudemire.

In the arcane universe that is the NBA, bean counters get access to every team's books after the season is well completed. In other words, even though salaries get exchanged in a cap system, the actual numbers aren't calculated until the off-season.

That is why any deal for Stoudemire would involve an expiring contract. That is why names such as Shawn Marion, a one-time Sun, or Chicago's Drew Gooden are being bandied about.

Detroit's Rasheed Wallace also is being linked in a potential package for Stoudemire because Sheed's contract expires on July 1.

Golden State, Portland, New York and the New Jersey Nets are rumoured to be in the mix for Stoudemire.

"I know about the rumours,'' Stoudemire said. "I know what teams want me. I pretty much know everything. I know what's going on. "

A.I.'s assist for Nash

Allen Iverson and Steve Nash came into the NBA in 1996. Both have copped MVP honours, but neither has won an NBA title.

After watching Nash produce a season-high 21 assists against his Pistons on Sunday, Iverson was left bemused at Nash's all-star snub.

"Who's been down on Steve Nash?" asked the Answer. "He's definitely an all-star and he's still playing like an MVP."

Nash wasn't voted by the fans as a starter for this Sunday's all-star game and neither was he selected as a reserve by the league's coaches.

Iverson isn't playing like an all-star, but he'll be in Phoenix this weekend because he remains a fan favourite.

Basking in Beantown

Former Raptors forward Matt Bonner stole the show for San Antonio in the Spurs' road win against the Celtics on Sunday by scoring a season-high 23 points.

In his previous two trips to Boston as a member of the Spurs, Bonner never got to see the court. In his new-found role as starting centre, Bonner knew he'd get minutes. Two busloads of his supporters made the trek from Concord, N.H., the Red Rocket's home town. Bonner was putting the ball on the floor and scoring on a variety of moves.

"At the end of the game, when we had wrapped it up and they were fouling us, I got goose bumps," Bonner said.

Briefly

Word is that ex-Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is at the top of Kevin McHale's short list in Minnesota.


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