Stoudemire Will Stay in Phoenix
"I think I'm pretty much safe,'' Stoudemire said after a talk with owner Robert Sarver following the Suns' 107-97 loss at Dallas. "I feel good. But either way I was going to feel all right.''
It became apparent Stoudemire wouldn't be dealt after Cleveland, which had been pursuing the big man before getting tired of waiting, agreed to a trade earlier Wednesday in which it will get forward Antawn Jamison in a three-team deal.
After that, two league sources said Stoudemire would be staying, and Suns coach Alvin Gentry did nothing to dispute that before Wednesday's game. It probably also hasn't hampered matters that Stoudemire reiterated to FanHouse he's still leaning toward not opting out of his contract this summer.
"I don't think that was ever an issue that we were looking to trade (Stoudemire),'' Gentry said. "People always make phone calls. They think somebody's available, and the guy's a great player... Quite naturally, anybody would field phone calls.. I don't think anybody went in saying, 'We're going to trade Amar'e.'''
Stoudemire had said before Wednesday's game it "could be my last in a Suns uniform.'' But Stoudemire, after totaling 30 points and 14 rebounds with Sarver sitting in the third row behind Phoenix's bench, had changed his tune after he met with Sarver following the game. Sarver declined comment.
Earlier Wednesday, Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, had told the Associated Press he expected Dallas to be the forward's final game with the Suns. But Stoudemire had said before the game "that's his feeling more so than mine'' and said he believed his chances of being moved were "50-50.''
In an interview with FanHouse earlier Wednesday, Suns general manager Steve Kerr wouldn't comment directly on what Walters said and wouldn't assess the chances of Stoudemire being dealt. But Kerr did speak of the difficulty for the Suns in that Stoudemire has the ability to opt out of his contract by June 30 and become a free agent.
"It makes it a little tricky, exactly,'' Kerr said by phone from Phoenix. "But he negotiated that into his contract, and he has that advantage.''
Stoudemire told FanHouse two weeks ago he was leaning toward not opting out of his contract, which would pay him $17.69 million next season.
"Ask him,'' said Kerr, when asked what his feeling is now about whether or not Stoudemire will opt out.
FanHouse did ask Stoudemire again. He said nothing has changed, and he's still leaning toward not opting out.
"I think everything still remains the same,'' he said. "You guys can take my old comments and use those.''
Miami and Philadelphia also had been mentioned as possible trade destinations for Stoudemire, who has played his entire eight-year career with the Suns..
"If we can make a move that makes our team better, then we'll do it,'' Kerr had said earlier Wednesday. "If not, then we won't.''
Stoudemire anticipates no problems remaining in Phoenix.
"Yeah, absolutely, he said. "It's all about being professional. My character, hopefully you guys have been seeing my character over the past 7 1/2 years but more so the last two years with the trade talk. I'm still going to remain a competitive force on the basketball court.''
According to reports, recent negotiations didn't go well between Stoudemire and the Suns regarding a possible contract extension. But Stoudemire would have no problem with continuing to negotiate an extension with Phoenix.
"The door's open,'' he said. "I could remain in Phoenix for another five years or I can be elsewhere for another five years. I'm not sure what's going to happen. But my ultimate goal is to continue to compete for a championship.''
Stoudemire can sign a contract extension until June 30. If doesn't opt out of his deal, that extension deadline would become June 30, 2011. If he does opt out, he becomes a free agent July 1.
Kerr declined to comment on contract extension talks. But he did speak well of his relationship with Stoudemire and his agent.
"I have a good relationship with Happy,'' Kerr said. "He's a good guy. I have a good relationship with Amar'e.''
Stoudemire did not sound bothered that the Cavaliers, after considering him, agreed to a three-team deal with Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers in which Cleveland will get Jamison.
"Cleveland made a decision that they feel they needed to make or that they had a better chance of making,'' Stoudemire said. "So they got the deal done... I don't think about it too much at all, to be honest with you. Situations could have happened. That's just the nature of the game. There's always different options, different situations that could have possibly happened. But the situation is I'm still with the Phoenix Suns.''
As for some of the possible situations that have been reported, Kerr doesn't take any stock in them.
"I almost need to read the Internet to find out what is going on with the Suns,'' Kerr quipped. "I don't give a lot of credence (to it)... A lot of that stuff is crap.''
Stoudemire helped make Phoenix's decision to keep him an easy one by averaging 26.6 points and 11.7 rebounds over the past seven games. He said when trade rumors surfaced last month it first bothered him but he then had a helpful talk with Gentry.
"It was definitely tough when the rumors first happened,'' Stoudemire said. "I think those three games when the rumors first came up, it was tough because I didn't quite understand the reason behind the trades. I didn't know what I was doing wrong. I didn't know what they thought about my game or such. So it bothered me there for a little bit. But I just happened to turn the switch and get back and focus to what the ultimate goal is: To win ballgames. And that allowed me to play at a high level.''
Stoudemire, whose Suns have won six of eight, said another factor in his recent strong play has been getting healthy. He was lost for remainder of last season last Feb. 19 when he suffered a detached retina. And we was slow this season to return to full form.
"I'm just getting a little more comfortable,'' said Stoudemire, who has raised his seasonal averages to 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. "With the eye procedure, I was out. It's been a full year since the procedure, but I was out this time last year and all the rest of the season and all the rest of the summer. So I wasn't able to play basketball.
"I couldn't even jog or shoot free throws all summer. So it takes a while to really get your rhythm back and until you get totally back to your full status. So I think I'm just just slowly starting to really back into the rhythm and get comfortable out there playing.''
The Suns are comfortable with Stoudemire. Thursday's 3 p.m. EST trade deadline will pass without Stoudemire going anywhere.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson