Suns, Stoudemire Talking Extension Again
Suns executives frequently shopped him and at times appeared close to closing a sale. And even when a deal never went down, most expected this to be Stoudemire's final season in the Valley of the Sun.
But according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Phoenix is now determined to keep the five-time All-Star and has offered a contract extension as recently as last week. While the terms of the offer are not known, a source close to the 27-year-old Stoudemire said of the proposal, "they're getting closer [financially] to where they should be."
No agreement is expected anytime soon, however. Stoudemire -- who has made clear his opinion that he is worthy of a max contract or something close to it -- has until June 30 to decide whether he'll exercise the player option for next season worth $17.6 million on his deal, agree to an extension or become a free agent. His negotiating stance continues to get stronger, too, as he has gone from averaging 23.1 points and 8.9 rebounds while playing all 82 regular-season games to continuing his drastic image makeover by changing his game for the betterment of the team in the postseason.
Stoudemire -- so long accused of having a me-first mentality -- has faced endless double-teams from the Blazers and made them pay with his willingness to pass to open shooters. He is, believe it or not, defending better than most ever thought probable. He is more engaged with his teammates and coaches than ever, looking nothing like the wary youngster who kept his distance from others in the locker room earlier in his career. And as Suns general manager Steve Kerr sees it, the total package is one that he doesn't plan on letting get away.
"We want to keep him," Kerr told FanHouse at Suns practice Friday. "I don't ever talk about specifics of contract negotiations, but I can tell you that we'd like to keep him. We're working on that, and we're hopeful that he's going to be here a long time."
With Phoenix having gone 22-5 after the Feb. 18 trade deadline, the Suns' success bodes well both for Stoudemire's desire to return and his ability to be paid as he sees fit. Per the league's collective bargaining agreement, he can be offered no more than a three-year extension that would run through the 2013-14 season and be worth a combined $64.7 million. Stoudemire would still earn his $17.6 million next season, followed by 10.5 percent annual raises thereafter.
Stoudemire could land more years and more money by joining the vaunted 2010 free agent market as well. What's certain is this: with every Suns win these playoffs, he continues to show his worth.
"You always factor in your team's performance, and if you feel good about where you are as a team, then you're more likely to keep things together," he said. "And if things are breaking apart, then you're more likely to make a move to get better.
"Obviously we've been on a great run here. We've got a nice mix of youth and experience. Amar'e has been a really good leader for our young guys this year, and I think that's a new dynamic for him."
Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, acknowledged the talks as well.
"We've been having ongoing discussions and talks for a while, but it's the playoffs," he told FanHouse by phone. "Everyone is trying to focus on that. The team is the most important thing."
To follow Sam on Twitter, go to @samickFanHouse.