PHOENIX (AP) -Reports the Phoenix Suns were nearing a deal to acquire Kevin Garnett were downplayed Wednesday by an NBA official with knowledge of the situation.
Contrary to several reports, the official told The Associated Press, the sides were not close to a three-team deal that would send Amare Stoudemire to Atlanta and Garnett from Minnesota to Phoenix.
Publicity regarding the Suns' possible acquisition of Garnett had been overblown, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject. However, the Timberwolves and Suns have talked about Garnett, the person confirmed.
A more likely scenario would have Phoenix trading up in the order of Thursday's draft, though few teams seem interested in moving down with what's regarded as a deep talent pool available.
Suns officials did not return telephone messages left at their offices on Wednesday, but new general manager Steve Kerr indicated on Tuesday that anything that might happen probably wouldn't occur until Thursday.
``Everything usually comes down to the last minute because everybody's waiting for the home run,'' Kerr said Tuesday, ``and usually no one hits one.''
D'Antoni wasn't talking like a coach who expected to lose Stoudemire.
``We can get better with what we have,'' D'Antoni said, ``and we should play better next year. One more year together, Amare's going to get better. We're going to be better. If we can get the end of the bench a little bit better and some of our guys come back ready to roll, then we're automatically better.''
D'Antoni long has cautioned against breaking up the nucleus of a team that's won three consecutive Pacific Division titles. Stoudemire came back from microfracture surgery on one knee and arthroscopic surgery on the other to make first team all-NBA last season.
Had Stoudemire not been suspended for taking a few too many steps off the bench when San Antonio's Robert Horry sent Steve Nash crashing into the scorer's table, the Suns might have won their Western Conference semifinal series with the eventual NBA champion Spurs.
The scenario being bandied about had the Suns sending Stoudemire to Atlanta, the Hawks shifting their No. 3 pick and other selections to Minnesota, and the Timberwolves shipping Garnett to Phoenix.
The idea gained a bit of credence because Garnett, a good friend of Nash, has said he would like to play for the Suns. But Stoudemire is 24 and Garnett 31. Still, Kerr has told the players that no one on the team is untouchable.
Another supposed deal would send Shawn Marion to Boston, with the Celtics giving Minnesota their No. 5 pick and Garnett coming to Phoenix. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge deflated that report by saying it was ``unlikely'' Boston would trade its pick.
There was considerable evidence, though, that Phoenix was attempting to acquire a better draft pick. The Suns have the 24th and 29th picks, but many of the players brought to Phoenix to work out for the team are sure to gone before those picks.
North Carolina power forward Brandan Wright and Florida State small forward Al Thornton worked out for Phoenix on Wednesday. That follows workouts Tuesday by two members of the NCAA champion Florida Gators - small forward Corey Brewer and power forward Joakim Noah - along with Georgetown small forward Jeff Green.
``All really impressive kids,'' Kerr said on Tuesday. ``They're competitors, really good players. That's why they're projected to go in the top 10.''
Moving up, if it's possible at all, would not come easily. Phoenix might have to part with the pick it holds from Atlanta next season.
``Of course it's going to come with a price,'' Kerr said. ``So you have to evaluate that, whether it means giving up something in the future, you have to evaluate whether it makes sense.''
AP Sports Writer Andrew Bagnato in Phoenix contributed to this story.

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