ORLANDO — As Amar’e Stoudemire sat on the bench in the closing seconds Wednesday night, he acknowledged thinking he might have just played his final game with the Knicks.
“Obviously playing these 13 years and through the few injuries, Father Time is ticking. So you know that you want to take advantage of good health when you can and try to win a championship when you can,” Stoudemire said after scoring five points in 14 minutes in the Knicks’ 89-83 loss to the Magic. “But that’s still a conversation I’ve got to have in the near future and I’ll go from there.”
Stouedmire’s agent, Happy Walters, acknowledged earlier Wednesday that he already has held preliminary conversations with the Knicks about a possible buyout for the former All-Star big man.
“I will say that the Knicks have been really great to Amar’e . . . and super supportive. And Jim Dolan, the owner, has been really loyal over the years to Amar’e and really great to him,” Walters said on Daily News basketball columnist Frank Isola’s NBA Radio show on SiriusXM. “And so I think Amar’e feels that he has a lot of loyalty to the Knicks and Jim, good days or bad days. He certainly didn’t think his last year would be like it is now where the team is struggling, but I think anything is possible.
“Amar’e and I have talked about what to do and, you know, it is an ongoing discussion and I’ve talked to the Knicks a little bit about it, but we haven’t gotten to anything substantive. And we’ll kind of see how things go. Amar’e wouldn’t do anything unless (Dolan) was cool with it, that’s for sure.”
The Daily News first reported Tuesday night that Walters and Phil Jackson were expected to meet this week in New York to discuss a possible buyout of the remainder of Stoudemire’s team-high $ 23.4 million salary for this season.
The Daily News first reported Tuesday night that Walters and Phil Jackson were expected to meet this week in New York to discuss a possible buyout of the remainder of Stoudemire’s team-high $ 23.4 million salary for this season. “I’m sure they have (talked), but I’m just focusing on playing basketball,” Stoudemire said before the game.
Still, with playoff-bound teams such as the Mavericks and the Clippers expected to be in the market for help up front, the six-time All-Star admitted he’s considered that the Knicks portion of his career is coming to a close.
“To think about all the things I was able to start and influence New York State and the city in the time that I was in New York. But I’m still here. Nothing’s changed yet,” Stoudemire said. “But it’s definitely kind of a bittersweet moment, going over all the joyful things that I have accomplished in New York. The bitter part is it’s a tough decision that in the near future I’ve got to make. But I dwell on all the great memories and try to build more if I can.”
Stoudemire also had reflected on Tuesday about his time in New York since signing a five-year, $ 100 million contract as a free agent in 2010, saying “I gave my heart, my body and my soul. I truly gave it all.” He endured multiple knee injuries in recent seasons, and the Knicks won only one playoff series during his tenure with the organization, despite Carmelo Anthony joining the team via trade during Stoudemire’s first season.
“He was supportive of Carmelo coming, very supportive. He likes Carmelo a lot. He knew him. And, you know, there was a good vibe on the team at the time,” Walters said. “Amar’e was the guy, but his whole thing when he came here was: ‘I don’t want to ever do anything where I’m going to let my ego get in the way; I want to bring guys here.’
“It was, as you guys remember, it was like: this was the beginning. And he didn’t think he could ever do it by himself. And Carmelo is a great offensive player. And unfortunately there have been injuries and up and down and Carmelo has been hurt this year and it is a new offense and a lot of new players, and so it has been a tough year.”
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