Stoudemire, Suns Not Splitting Up Yet
"It's snowing in Phoenix," Hill joked.
Speaking of anything being possible in the Valley, Stoudemire said he is still considering remaining with the Suns beyond this season.
Stoudemire's lengthy discussion about his future came as a response to an ESPN report quoting a source close to him as saying, "I don't think (Stoudemire re-signing) is going to happen." He has a player option for next season, and must decide before July 1 whether he'll play out the contract and earn his $17.6 million for 2010-11, become an unrestricted free agent or sign an extension that has been offered by the Suns.
After years of hearing his name in the rumor mill leading up to the February trade deadline, Stoudemire said those memories would factor into how he views the Phoenix organization going forward. But moments after making that assertion, he insisted the past had been rectified with the way in which he has been treated in recent months.
"It does factor in; absolutely," he said when asked about the trade rumors. "It's never easy going through trade rumors. That makes you feel somewhat unwanted.
"But that changed over the past four months or so. That definitely changed. I feel as if things may work out (with the Suns). We just have to figure it out, to wait for this summer and see what works ... The organization has been phenomenal, and that definitely has changed. That feeling is no longer a feeling anymore."
Stoudemire -- who had for weeks said he didn't want to discuss his potential free agency -- was candid as he discussed his thinking. With the Suns down 2-0 to the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and Game 3 coming Sunday, Stoudemire said the outcome of this series will have no impact on his situation.
"It doesn't (affect his thinking) at all," he said. "We had a great year, and we still have a chance to do some special things here in these next two games, but overall the year has been phenomenal for us. We've been playing well. It's the Phoenix Suns nation."
Another possible factor is his supporting cast. And while point guard Steve Nash is certainly a future Hall of Famer, he is also nine years older than Stoudemire (36 to 27) and admittedly in the final years of his career. Becoming a free agent, of course, could afford Stoudemire the chance to partner with a top-tier free agent of a much younger age. Nash signed a two-year extension last summer that has him with the Suns through the 2011-12 campaign. So, Stoudemire was asked, does the limited shelf life of the Suns' two-man tandem play a factor?
"I don't know how much longer Steve has to play," he answered. "He's been playing well in his upper ages, but hopefully he goes out on top and we can get a championship for him if he leaves.
"You always want to play with a (good) point guard. You've got to have a point guard who's the quarterback of the team. And every team has to have one in order to be successful. Right now we have Steve. And when it's all said and done and Steve retires, then hopefully (backup point guard) Goran (Dragic) can step up and be the next guy for us. He's done a great job so far for us. We're trying to train him and get him ready for that position."
The other side of the question, of course, is whether Stoudemire is still a wanted man in Phoenix. Suns president of basketball operations Steve Kerr has said for weeks that they do want to sign Stoudemire, and sources told FanHouse on April 23 that a generous extension offer had been made as recently as mid-April.
But Stoudemire has struggled mightily in this series, with old questions about his defensive inadequacies returning and his offensive game yet to resemble the dominant style of his second-half stretch. He has averaged 20.5 points and just 4.5 rebounds per game against the Lakers, and been badly outplayed by the opposing forward Pau Gasol.
Still, it appears the Suns' stance regarding the extension has not changed. Sources with knowledge of the talks between the Suns and his agent, Happy Walters, say the offer has not been withdrawn. The offer is believed to be for the maximum of three additional years (through the 2013-14 season) for a combined total of approximately $60 million (approximately $77.6 million including next season).
While Stoudemire may still opt to sign a longer deal on the free agent market, he would be just 31 years old by the end of the extension agreement and might view it as a chance to land a bigger payday on his subsequent contract rather than be a free agent as he neared his mid-30s. Walters declined to comment on or acknowledge the extension talks, but he did refute the ESPN story's claim that Stoudemire was leaning toward leaving.
"Nothing has changed at all," Walters said by phone. "Phoenix is definitely (a place Stoudemire) feels strongly about. He just wants right now to play and not worry about this."
The two parties did manage to reach an agreement on that front, as Kerr called the story "garbage" but wouldn't comment otherwise. Suns coach Alvin Gentry said plenty in defense of Stoudemire, which was ironic considering his player had been accused of not playing defense thus far in the series.
"It wasn't just Amar'e," Gentry said. "It's easy to target the guy, but it wasn't just Amar'e. It was our whole overall defense. You know what, we say to front the post and (that) you'll get help from the weak side. Well it wasn't there all the time. To take your finger and point it at one person, I don't think that's fair. Pau didn't get 126 points. Obviously, we struggled in other areas too."
"I love the fact that people (say) we're not guarding anybody or that we're not trying. Believe me, we're trying. You don't get to the Western Conference Finals and then decide that we won't try. It's a ridiculous statement to make, really. Our guys are trying. They're huge and they're big and you try to rotate or you try to do something and they always have a counter for it. You still have to find a way, and we will try to find a way, to win one game, to win a game, and that's tomorrow."
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