Forward Amare Stoudemire, a former Phoenix Suns standout, has agreed to a five-year contract worth about $99.7 million to join the New York Knicks.
NEW YORK — Amare Stoudemire is headed to the New York Knicks, and both sides are hoping the free-agent forward is not coming alone.
Knicks officials said Monday they intend to sign Stoudemire to a contract later this week, after the free-agent moratorium period ends. Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, said the deal is for the maximum allowed, which would be an estimated $99.7 million over five years.
Stoudemire, 27, was a five-time All-Star for the Phoenix Suns, averaging 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds.
Wearing a blue Knicks hat, Stoudemire said he looked forward to rebuilding a franchise and bringing New York back to the top — perhaps with a teammate such as forward LeBron James or guard Dwyane Wade. Cleveland superstar James, the league’s most valuable player the last two seasons, and Miami standout Wade also are free agents.
Most Read Sports Stories
- New UW Huskies football coach Kalen DeBoer has already earned his first win
- Seattle is getting a minor-league soccer team. Here's how Ballard FC went from vision to reality.
- Despite report he's transferring back to Washington, Fresno State QB Jake Haener says he remains uncommitted
- Here's how UW coach Kalen DeBoer plans to win recruiting battles: 'We've got to be relentless in everything we do'
- Report: Cade, Jack Beresford plan to transfer from Washington State football
“I feel great about being a pioneer and showing my leadership,” Stoudemire said at Madison Square Garden, where signs at the entrances showed the player pictured in a Knicks uniform and reading “Welcome, Amare Stoudemire.”
The deal can’t be signed until Thursday, after the salary cap for next season has been set.
It was a desperately needed score in free agency for the Knicks, who spent two seasons clearing enough cap space to afford two elite players. Knicks officials met with James, Wade and Toronto forward Chris Bosh last week and say they believe they could still land one of them.
Stoudemire has already started recruiting, saying he spoke to James’ people and directly to Wade last week. But he said he won’t be affected if those players say no to New York.
“Totally comfortable, totally confident that my leadership qualities will uplift all of us to do something great this upcoming season,” Stoudemire said. “So again, the Knicks are back.”
The move reunites Stoudemire with Mike D’Antoni, his former coach in Phoenix. Stoudemire averaged more than 20 points in each season they were together and becomes the best player D’Antoni has coached since leaving the Suns after the 2007-08 season.
“He’s a dominant offensive player for sure, in a variety of ways,” D’Antoni said.
Stoudemire’s days with the Suns ended late last week when the team agreed to $48 million worth of deals with forwards Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye. The sides had discussed an extension, but the Suns looked elsewhere after they had reached a stalemate.
“No one wanted to make the first move and I feel confident enough to take that first step and hopefully now we can bring a few guys in to join me,” Stoudemire said.
Stoudemire’s presence means Wade or James would no longer have to worry about lifting the Knicks back to respectability alone.
“This could help get the dominoes falling,” D’Antoni said. “He’ll be a great teammate for somebody.”