Amar'e Stoudemire 'Would Have Stayed' Had Suns Guaranteed 5 Years
On Saturday, while it wasn't in the ad, Stoudemire said the Suns could have kept him from bolting to the New York Knicks as a free agent had they offered him a fully guaranteed five-year maximum contract.
"Definitely. If they had done that, I would have stayed,'' Stoudemire said in an interview Saturday with FanHouse at the NBA Summer League. "They only gave me three years guaranteed.''
So Stoudemire ended up agreeing to a five-year, $100 million contract with the Knicks before the deal turned into a sign-and-trade in which Phoenix was able to get a trade exception.
The Suns wanted to guarantee Stoudemire's final two seasons only if he reached certain incentives regarding minutes played. Stoudemire didn't want to dwell on not getting the offer he wanted from the Suns.
"I'm pretty over it,'' he said. "I'm now with the New York Knicks, and looking forward to making a playoff push.''
Stoudemire said Suns owner Robert Sarver made what Sarver believed was a "smart decision on his part'' and said he "brought in some pretty good players to help those guys get better" after Stoudemire had departed. Phoenix's moves have included acquiring forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress via trade and signing forward Hakim Warrick as a free agent.
But while Stoudemire has mostly moved on, he still wanted to show his appreciation for Suns fans.
"I just wanted to let people know how I felt about them,'' Stoudemire, who had joined Phoenix in 2002, said about taking out the newspaper ad, the price of which he wouldn't reveal. "How I really felt. How it was a tough decision for me (to go to New York). ... I want to let them know that I appreciate them.''
In the ad, Stoudemire wrote it was a "final opportunity to say THANK YOU.'' He wrote he "became a man'' in Phoenix after being drafted straight from high school at 19.
"It's been great,'' Stoudemire said of the reaction. "The fans are loving it. I got a lot of positive feedback from it.''
When the NBA schedule comes out next month, you can bet New York's one regular-season game at Phoenix will be circled on the calendar by Stoudemire.
"It will be very emotional,'' he said. "I'm sure it will be. I hope that I have a pretty good game.''
Does he expect cheers or boos?
"I'm expecting cheers,'' he said. "I hope so.''
Stoudemire is in Las Vegas to watch the Knicks play. On Tuesday, he will begin a five-day training camp with Team USA here in preparation for the Aug. 28-Sept. 12 World Championships in Turkey.
"We've still got a pretty good group of guys,'' said Stoudemire, all but a lock to make the team after all the 2008 Olympic holdovers have dropped out. "We're going to put forth a lot of effort. I think we have a great chance (to win a Worlds gold for the first time since 1994).''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson