17 Feb Where Does Amar’e Stoudemire Go From Here?
Where Does Amar’e Stoudemire Go From Here?
The cat is finally out of the bag in New York.
After months of speculation, the Knicks announced on Monday that they have waived veteran forward Amar’e Stoudemire. According to the NY Daily News on 2.16.15:
The Knicks and Stoudemire reached agreement on an undisclosed buyout on the remainder of the veteran big man’s $23.4 million salary for this season to give him a chance to catch on with a playoff contender.
Injuries have plagued the 32 year old Stoudemire’s tenure with the Knicks. In five seasons, Stoudemire has played just a total of 255 games for the Knicks, averaging 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest. Stoudemire and the Knicks went to three straight playoff appearances from 2011-2013 before falling from grace last season with a 37-45 record. The arrival of President Phil Jackson and the “re-structuring” of the team has made the 13 year veteran an expendable this season.
But despite leaving with a “heavy heart”, Stoudemire’s release gives him the opportunity to finish the season with the opportunity to play for a title contender. Stoudemire is expected to clear the waivers at 5 PM ET on Wednesday and then he becomes a free agent. What happens next is our topic for discussion. Here are the top destinations for Amar’e Stoudemire:
Ex-#Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire is leaning toward signing with the Dallas Mavericks at this point, per sources.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 16, 2015
Even before he was officially waived, Dallas has been linked to Amar’e more than any other NBA team. For the Mavs, getting Stoudemire makes sense. The Mavericks need the depth in the Five position especially since the team is 5.8 points worse per 100 possessions when starting center Tyson Chandler is off the court. Chandler sprained his ankle just before the All-Star break and the Mavs lost to the Clippers 115-98 and then barely got past slumping Utah 87-82 two days later. Without a definitive timetable for Chandler’s return, the Mavs need the talent at the center position more than ever. Their first target was Jermaine O’Neal but once O’Neal said no, “STAT” became their logical choice.
Stoudemire’s knees have prevented him from playing at his best, but this version of Stuodemire will definitely give the Mavs a huge lift as they battle for playoff positioning. When Chandler returns, Stoudemire should become the better choice as Dirk’s back-up rather than Charlie Villanueva. Coach Rick Carlisle also runs a lot of pick and rolls and we all know how Stoudemire thrived as Steve Nash’s screener in his early days with the Suns. With Chandler and a lot of veteran presence there, Stoudemire should fit perfectly with the Mavs.
Los Angeles Clippers
Sources: Clippers and Mavericks have strong interest in Amar'e Stoudemire, but one darkhorse with level of intrigue is San Antonio.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 16, 2015
We’ve already talked about one third of that tweet earlier. With Dallas (36-19) and the L.A. Clippers (35-19) separated by just ½ game in the standings, it is but natural that the Clippers go after who the Mavs are after. But getting Amar’e Stoudemire would be more than keeping him off the Dallas fence for the Clippers. Star forward and leading scorer Blake Griffin is still at least two weeks out due to a staph infection in his right elbow and Stoudemire would provide them with instant offense that can help neutralize the loss of Griffin’s scoring. The Clippers have so far been impressive without Griffin by beating the Mavs and Rockets (and losing to the Thunder) but it remains to be seen if they can sustain that without their best player on the floor. Again, Stoudemire is just a shadow of his All-Star self, but with Spencer Hawes struggling with just 6.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG on .429 FG%, Stoudemire’s numbers should make the Clippers better.
Despite having Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (who leads the NBA in rebounds), the Clippers are just 24th in the league in total rebounds per game. Stoudemire’s 6.8 RPG should help that. Like the Mavs, the Clippers also run the pick and roll a lot but the Clippers have the better point guard who is in his prime and who can feed Stoudemire as much as Nash did during their heyday in Phoenix.
Amar'e Stoudemire buyout depends on how much money he wants to give up, but #Suns are likely front-runners/serious contenders if it happens.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) February 10, 2015
Going back to Phoenix makes sense from a personal standpoint. Stoudemire and Steve Nash starred for the Suns from 2002-2010. During those 8 seasons, the Suns reached three Conference Finals in six playoff appearances. Stoudemire made five All-Star appearances and one All-NBA First Team award with the Suns. Going back to where it started would be the perfect ending to an exceptional NBA career. But being sentimental is not on top of Amar’e Stoudemire’s mind right now.
The Suns also have a complete 15 man roster right now and if they are to cut somebody there, it’s got to be Zoran Dragic. But the reason why the Suns signed Zoran is to have leverage in keeping brother Goran in the free agency next summer. But lately there have been talks about the Suns reportedly interested in trading Goran Dragic himself. Should that happen, there would be room for Stoudemire to enter the Phoenix picture. But that’s not definite right now, and while the Suns are the sentimental favorites, they could be longshots right now.
San Antonio Spurs
From cbssports.com on 2.16.15:
Along with the Mavericks, Suns and Clippers, the Spurs also expressed an interest in signing Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, sources told Yahoo Sports.
At this stage of the season, you won’t think that the Spurs need back-up because they’ve just gotten healthy this month. But Coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t gotten the contributions expected from Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. Aside from a slide in their personal stats, Popovich hasn’t settled on whom he wants to start alongside Tim Duncan in the Spurs frontline. Splitter has started just 16 games, Diaw in 14 games while Aron Baynes has started 9. Getting Stoudemire wouldn’t mean only getting a reliable scorer, but Popovich would be getting a regular at the starting center position. Plus, Stoudemire can slide down to the four spot naturally and would take some pressure of the aging Duncan.
Financially, the Spurs stand to offer Amar’e the most money as they still have their mid-level exception worth around $3.2M while the other suitors can only offer him the veteran’s minimum. Aside from the money, the Spurs are proven winners who will always be in title contention once they reach the playoffs. Stoudemire wants a shot at the title and what better way to do so than to ride with the champs.
Wherever Stoudemire chooses to go, it will be a journey to freedom. Since 2010, Stoudemire has been tied to that $99.7M contract like a slave. Every injury and setback in New York was magnified as a failure. Sure, Amar’e in New York was a far cry from the Amar’e in Phoenix. He was no longer the franchise player who could carry the team on his shoulders. But at a healthy 32, he still has a lot left in the gas tank. His next destination will prove that point. Where that will be, we’ll see in the next 48 hours.