Storyline: Amare Stoudemire Free Agency

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Stoudemire will explore three options, and retirement is one of them. The 34-year-old still has pangs for one more go-round in the NBA. “To play and win a championship my first year there, I could just call it quits and leave as a champion,’’ said Stoudemire, who never made it to the NBA Finals. “That could be an option. Another option is maybe to play with a team that needs quality veteran leadership here in the NBA. That could be an option. Or I could go back and defend the title for a back-to-back. I have time to think about it. Those are my three options.”

The big adjustments for Stoudemire have come at his workplace, where he often plays in small gyms for less than 1,000 fans. Even as a veteran of international competition, he is still picking up on the rules and nuances of Euro-ball, the niceties of officiating, an Italian coach who speaks mostly with his hands. And Stoudemire’s teammates are . . . “Let’s put it this way,” he says, after searching for diplomatic words, “it’s more of a teaching situation. Like, Here’s where you go on a pick-and-roll.”

Stoudemire: I may be retiring from the NBA, but I’m not saying goodbye to basketball just yet. My next step is playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, one of the top teams in Europe. This isn’t about collecting a paycheck overseas, though; it’s a spiritual journey, too. The Scripture speaks about Jerusalem as a holy place, and I can feel that whenever I’m in the city. This is a chance for me to be a better husband and a better father, to help me lead my family into righteousness. The opportunity to play there, and grow as a player and person, is a blessing. As my father used to tell me, “The sky’s the limit.”

Amare Stoudemire: Then there’s Steve Nash. Before he arrived, we already had a pretty strong nucleus in myself, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa. When we brought Steve on board, we reached a whole new level. Everyone else fed off him. Once you have a pass-first point guard, a guy who just focuses on getting the ball to where it needs to be —who’s just making his teammates better — it opens up the entire game. We redefined the game of basketball. Before us, the center position was more like Shaq or Karl Malone. We didn’t have that size, but we had speed. Mike D’Antoni made a decision to go small. Teams weren’t ready for it. They weren’t ready for Seven Seconds or Less.

Stoudemire: Can’t forget about the big fella, neither: Shaq. I idolized him growing up. And I got to play with him in Phoenix in ’08 and ’09. We did work, too. I was putting up insane numbers thanks to him and all the attention teams had to give him. Then there’s Dirk Nowitzki. The toughest player I ever had to guard. That one-legged fadeaway? There’s just no stopping it. Luckily when we were on the same team for a few months in 2015, I didn’t have to. I could play off him and just watch him work.

Stoudemire: Last, but definitely not least, Carmelo Anthony. I think he’s the best pure scorer in the NBA. It just comes so easy to him. When he’s at his best, he’s playing an entirely different game than the rest of us. That night when he scored 62 at the Garden, that was easy for him. He could have gotten 70, maybe more. He just flowed out there on the court. That’s what the game is all about, getting to a level like Carmelo is on. When a great player performs like that, it’s fun to watch. I should know, I was there.

Eric Pincus: The New York Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire on Tuesday to a 1-yr $1.5 min contract, then waived him – researching if any was guaranteed – Roman Sprikut: it’ll be so funny if today someone (like, i dunno, Bucks or Pistons) makes waiver claim and then asks him to report to the team. – Eric Pincus: Technically a team would be able to claim Amar’e.

Stoudemire said he considered signing with Phoenix last summer but wanted to be on a title contender. “That’s why I chose Miami but Phoenix is still not ruled out,” Stoudemire said. “I have a lot of basketball left in me.” Stoudemire’s Friday return was sentimental for a Suns run that began as Rookie of the Year and ended with five All-Star seasons. “I have so many good memories here,” Stoudemire said. “It feels like home. It truly does. I look around and see everything around the arena, the practice court and the city and it feels like have a connection that I can’t break. I feel comfortable. “
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February 22, 2018 | 5:06 am EST Update
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