PHOENIX -- As Amare Stoudemire warmed up for the NBA All-Star Game on his home floor Sunday night, the Suns' efforts to trade him circled back to the Chicago Bulls, three people with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com.
The Suns are discussing financial and basketball trades with several teams, and disagreement within the organization -- and in the mind of managing partner Robert Sarver -- continues to complicate matters, one of the people said. One faction of the organization views trading Stoudemire as a "giant mistake" that would be difficult to recover from and views the firing of coach Terry Porter as a sufficient move for now. Asssistant Alvin Gentry is expected to take over for Porter Monday.
The Suns' efforts to find the best deal for Stoudemire have come back to the Bulls partly because of Phoenix's interest in Tyrus Thomas, one of the people said. The trade likely would have to include at least one of the following -- Drew Gooden, whose contract expires after this season, and Larry Hughes, whose deal comes off the books after 2009-10.
If the Suns decide to dump salary and go young, there could be an additional smaller deal that follows any Stoudemire move, one of the people with knowledge of the team's strategy said. Though several other teams are still in the mix and are being apprised of the progress with Stoudemire, one rival executive familiar with the talks said Portland evidently is no longer an option.
Stoudemire received a warm welcome from the home crowd during the All-Star starters' introductions at US Airways Center. He pounded his chest in return and smiled. Was it hello or good-bye?
UPDATE: With 40.1 seconds left in the West's 146-119 victory, Stoudemire swooped in for a breakaway dunk. He admitted wondering if it would be his last as a Sun.
"At that time, I just wanted to do a fantastic dunk," Stoudemire said. "And then after that, when I got done, I thought that might be the final dunk here. And if it was, two thumbs up."
But the Suns' situation is so convoluted that Stoudemire at once referred to Gentry as the new coach and the next minute said, "I have never gotten an official word from our organization. So I'm still not totally sure if he’s here or not."
Stoudemire said he'd spoken with team president Steve Kerr briefly this weekend, and Kerr said this: "He said from a financial standpoint, it hasn't changed. But hopefully, I’ll be a Phoenix Sun. ... Like I told you guys, it was 60-40 me being here. It still hasn’t changed. Hopefully, that 60 is true and I will be here. But I feel like there’s a 40 percent chance I won't be."