Is an All Star big man on the Sixers' wish list? Could the target in question currently reside in their own division?
CSN's John Finger reports the 76ers have indeed contacted the rival New York Knicks about one Amare Stoudemire, who the team also was linked to in potential deals of years past. Finger stresses nothing is imminent, and a league source described the inquiry as "due diligence."
Still, you can't throw a six-time All Star's name into the mix and expect it not to provoke more serious discussion about the possibility. What would the Knicks want in exchange, and would Stoudemire be a good fit in Philadelphia -- perhaps even the piece that elevates the club to legitimate contender status?
Taking the second question first, whether the addition of Stoudemire actually would make them one of the most dangerous teams in the East might depend on how close you believe the Sixers are to that distinction already, but does he even make them better?
That might depend on whether or not he's suddenly in decline.
Averaging nearly 22 points per game over his 10-year career, Amare's PPG has dipped to 17.7 in 2011-12. Finger indicates the culprit could be Stoudemire is seeing fewer shots since the Knicks added Carmelo Anthony, but he's actually averaging about the same as he did with the Phoenix Suns in years past.
However, his field goal percentage is worse than ever, hitting just 41.3% percent through 19 games. Stoudemire is usually among the NBA's leaders in that category.
So what's the problem? Maybe things simply aren't working out in New York, and it's time for a change of scenery. Maybe it has something to do with the way he trained during the lockout, reportedly bulking up by 20 pounds. Maybe he got old -- Stoudemire is 29 now, but has missed time with serious injuries throughout his career.
Maybe it's a combination of all of the above. Whatever the case, it seems a trade could only happen if the Sixers were willing to change their identity to an extent.
Unless the Knicks were desperate and willing to settle for Elton Brand and picks (hey, at least his contract expires in 2013; they're on the hook with Stoudemire through 2015), the swap would likely require Andre Iguodala, which would send Philly's best defender to a rival in exchange for the hopes of putting a few more points on the scoreboard.
According to ESPN.com's trade machine, Iggy and Andres Noccioni's expiring contract (team option for 2012-13) would in fact work. As much as many fans may be weary of Iguodala though, that sounds like a risky move to land an interior scorer.
But again, the talks between the Sixers and Knicks are nothing more than preliminary at this point, and at the very least, you have to appreciate they are considering all their options. I'd be interested to hear AU's take on a trade, but this doesn't strike me as the one that would push them over the hump.