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The Phoenix Suns reportedly are trying to acquire Denver Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo in a three-way deal that would send Charles Barkley to the Houston Rockets.

The Arizona Republic said today that Suns sources confirmed the trade talks.Nothing can happen until Monday, when the league salary cap rises to $24.3 million and a number of players become free agents.

It may not happen then. NBA commissioner David Stern has said he'll ban free-agent signings if the league and NBA Players Association haven't reached a new contract agreement by Monday.

The Nuggets would have to sign Mutombo to a new contract for the trade to go ahead, and would be unable to do so under the ban.

Suns president Jerry Colangelo, who under league rules isn't allowed to discuss free agents publicly, acknowledged a potential player lockout would delay any such trade.

The Republic said the Suns are willing to offer Mutombo a contract that would average about $9.75 million a year. Starting at around $6.5 million, it would rise 20 percent a year over six years, the newspaper said.

Mutombo, who led the NBA with an average of 4.49 blocks per game, more than the Suns as a team, made about $3.2 million last season but is said to be asking from more than $12 million a season. He reportedly would like to play for the Suns.

Barkley reiterated Thursday at a Utah State athletic fund-raising golf tournament in Logan that the Rockets are among the teams for which he'd like to play.

As part of the deal, the Nuggets would get Rockets forward Robert Horry and guard Sam Cassell, the Republic said. Houston would get another member of the Suns along with Barkley, but it won't be guard Elliot Perry, as has been reported, the newspaper said it was told by Suns team sources.