The New York Knicks and Amar’e Stoudemire have agreed to a five-year deal worth about $100 million.
The power forward and his agent met with team owner James Dolan earlier in the day to finalize the terms. Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, says the deal is for the maximum allowed. The deal can’t be signed until July 8.
"I feel great about being a pioneer and showing my leadership," he said at Madison Square Garden, where signs throughout the entrances showed the player pictured in a Knicks uniform and reading "Welcome, Amare Stoudemire."
New York has struggled the past few seasons and went 29-53. Stoudemire starred for the Phoenix Suns last season, averaging 23 points and nine rebounds.
The deal reunite him with current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. Stoudemire has spent his entire career in Phoenix, where he played for D’Antoni before the coach came to New York in 2008.
"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 New York Post reported that the deal is uninsurable because of Stoudemire’s past eye and knee injuries; Stoudemire had microfracture surgery on his left knee in November of 2005 and required surgery for a detached retina in 2009.
The agreement was a desperately needed score in free agency for the Knicks, who spent two seasons clearing enough salary cap space to afford two top players. They spoke to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh last week and believe they could still land one of them.
The big-name free agents could make their decisions this week, and perhaps they might take a second look at New York now that there’s another huge piece in place.
"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.
The Knicks decided they no longer needed to wait on an answer from Bosh, especially because Stoudemire showed such a commitment to New York.
"I think to a degree the fact that Amar’e really wanted to come here, stepped up front, it got to the point where we had to acknowledge that and say that means something to us," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said.
Walsh said Stoudemire’s arrival didn’t necessarily mean the end for David Lee, the Knicks’ own All-Star free agent who plays the same position. Lee could also be used in a sign-and-trade, though Walsh indicated he hadn’t received any good proposals in discussions with Lee’s agent.
Stoudemire has career averages of 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds and helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals this season. D’Antoni called him "probably one of the best, if not the best finisher in the league" and dismissed the notion that their relationship was strained in Phoenix.
"We had no problem," D’Antoni said. "I had four great years. The reason I have a very good contract in New York is Amar’e doing what he did for me. So I can’t have any animosity and don’t, and he was great."