According to an ESPN.com report by Chris Broussard, New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D’Antoni “hope to meet with Amare Stoudemire” in Los Angeles soon after the clock strikes midnight Thursday, which marks the official start of free agency, to sway him toward signing with the Knicks.
STAT certainly isn’t the Knicks’ first option, as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and even Joe Johnson — who they will meet with in LA before Amare — rank ahead of him on New York’s wish list. But Walsh and D’Antoni seem extremely eager to meet with the five-time All-Star.
However, before people read too much into this potential meeting, remember that Stoudemire and D’Antoni didn’t exactly have a picture perfect relationship when they were together with the Suns.
Yes, D’Antoni was well-liked and respected by almost every player during his time in Phoenix, except for Amare. Stoudemire admitted that D’Antoni’s lack of defensive teaching set him back defensively and that he isn’t a huge fan of his Seven Seconds or Less offense.
But even if there is a slight rift between the two, STAT to New York makes sense. The Knicks have money to blow and Stoudemire is chasing dollar signs. And Amare is the type of guy who wants to be a big name in a big market, so what better place than New York?
D’Antoni’s system also requires absolutely zero defensive effort or knowledge, which is a bill that Amare fits perfectly. And he’s proven that he can thrive playing the Knicks’ style of basketball, as he averaged career highs in points (26.0) and rebounds (9.6) under D’Antoni in Phoenix.
But could this just be a rumor leaked by Amare’s camp to drive up his price? The Knicks clearly want LeBron and/or Bosh, and it appears Johnson is also higher on the totem pole than STAT, so why would they be so eager to hunt down Amare at the very beginning of free agency?
Because Stoudemire is the perfect backup if they miss on LeBron or Bosh, and he’s also the perfect No. 2, which is why the Knicks certainly couldn’t feel discouraged if they went into next season with a duo like STAT and Johnson. All D’Antoni would need is Nash, Shawn Marion and Quentin Richardson and he’d have his old Suns team back.
That’s obviously not going to happen, and Amare to New York might not either, but it’s safe to say that the Amare Stoudemire free agency rumors have officially begun, and things should only heat up at midnight on July 1.