With Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Rudy Gay having all deciding to stay at home and continue building their legacies for the franchises with which they’ve become synonymous, Amar’e Stoudemire is the first big-time free agent to change teams.
The New York Knicks offered Amar’e a 5-year, $100 million deal days ago, and during his official meeting with the team today, Amar’e accepted. If you didn’t hear, the Knicks also made a second pitch to LeBron James over the weekend, presumably to remind him they are capable of building a great team around him featuring Amar’e.
But let’s not get ahead of the game: If Amar’e is the biggest free agent NY signs this summer, how far can he take them? Or will he only be The Man for one season before Carmelo comes to the Big Apple next summer?
It would be easy to look at the nine figures he got from the Knicks, then at the Western Conference Finals squad he left in Phoenix and say Amar’e just went after the money. But I don’t think it’s that simple. The Suns offered $96 million and Amar’e turned them down, not because another $4 million was the deal-breaker, but because personally from my dealings with him, I think Amar’e was disillusioned with the Suns ever since they almost traded him at the 2009 mid-season deadline. Last week it was reported Phoenix wanted Stoudemire to sign a five-year contract that had minutes-played clauses in the final two years of the deal, which turned Amar’e off.