In an interview with FanHouse, the Phoenix forward said he's leaning toward not opting out of his contract this summer. Unless he were to sign an extension before then, that would mean he would put off his free agency from next summer until the summer of 2011.
"I can opt out this summer or I can opt in, which means I'll be back another year (for $17.69 million)," said Stoudemire, speaking after the morning shootaround in preparation for Wednesday night's game against Denver. "That's definitely an option. I'm leaning more toward that right now. Maybe opting in. ... (That would be to) buy time. See how we do. ... I think we got our game back on track. A three-game winning streak."
If Stoudemire indeed wants to stay, that could reduce the chances of the Suns dealing him by the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Stoudemire, making $16.38 million this season, believes the chances of him being moved are "50-50."
"I'm pretty sure they're going to offer a deal here pretty soon," Stoudemire said.
Stoudemire said he believes the next step is for a deal to be offered, and how that goes will factor into whether he might be dealt. Stoudemire, though, isn't expecting an extension offer for maximum money.
"I don't know if the Suns are really willing to pay maximum deals period, whether it's me or whoever," Stoudemire said of what he believes is the financial situation of the team. "That's just how I feel about it. We'll see how it plays out."
Stoudemire said it's too early to say whether he would be willing to sign an extension this season. He was noncommittal on whether he would be willing to sign a deal that wasn't for maximum money.
One key question is whether Stoudemire would be willing to tell Suns management before the trade deadline he definitely won't opt out this summer. That could result in the Suns deciding definitely to not trade him and would extend until June 30, 2011, the deadline for signing Stoudemire to an extension before he could become a free agent July 1, 2011.
"That's a tough question to answer right now," Stoudemire said. "It can happen this summer (that he makes the decision on his contract option) or it can happen before the trade deadline this year. It's a tough question to answer. But the only way we can find out is wait and see."
Judging by his leaning toward not opting out, Stoudemire obviously likes the Suns. But Stoudemire, who said the "ultimate goal is to win,'' stressed no final decision has been made.
"I love the city," Stoudemire said of Phoenix. "But, at the same time, I'm open. I'm open for other teams. There's nothing written in stone. My feet are not planted in cement."
If Stoudemire doesn't opt out, there would be the risk a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for 2011-12 would limit what type of contract he could get. Still, it would be hard in this uncertain economy to walk away from more than $17 million.
Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr did not immediately return a phone message Wednesday.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he has not been told that Stoudemire is leaning toward not opting out of his contract. But he welcomed the news.
"I have not heard that, but obviously him being part of our team, he's been a hell of a player for the six years I've been here (as an assistant and head coach)," Gentry said. "We'll see how it all goes."
Gentry said he has talked to Stoudemire about rumors he might be dealt.
"The big thing that I told him is that it's not anything he should spend a whole lot of time worrying about because we have no control over it,'' Gentry said. "I think he put it behind him. I think being on the road (for a third straight game Wednesday) kind of helped. He's away from the whole Phoenix thing.
"I told him he's going to have to put it on the back burner until either (a trade) happens or doesn't happen. The whole trade thing, he has no control over that. ... I think it's been a distraction to him because no one wants to hear their name out there. It's tough. But it's all a part of the business. We all know that. But I think he realizes he's put that in perspective to be able to focus on playing."
Gentry said he hasn't been involved in any such discussions and doesn't know the chances of Stoudemire being traded. But if Stoudemire tells the Suns he's firmly committed to not opting out, it could be a moot point.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson