Knicks make lineup more at­trac­tive for James with five-year deal for Stoudemire

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

Stand­ing in front of a New York City mu­ral em­bla­zoned with the phrase “Stat City” and Pho­to­shopped pic­tures of him wear­ing No. 1 on a white Knicks’ uni­form, Amar’e Stoudemire put on a blue team cap Mon­day night and pro­claimed, “The Knicks are back.”

Of course, they could be a lot more “back” if the power for­ward can per­suade LeBron James to join him.

Stoudemire, who reached a ver­bal agree­ment Mon­day with the Knicks on a five-year free-agent deal worth al­most $100 mil­lion (he can’t of­fi­cially sign un­til Thurs­day), al­ready has “talked to (James’) guys” about com­ing the New York and plans to “reach out” to LeBron again as soon as pos­si­ble.

“But I don’t know what he’s think­ing,’’ said Stoudamire, who has ca­reer av­er­ages of 21.4 points and 8.9 re­bounds and helped the Suns reach the Western Con­fer­ence fi­nals.

James re­mains quiet about his fu­ture, though he did show up for the start of his three-day Nike camp for high school and col­lege play­ers in his home­town of Akron, Ohio. James is not ex­pected to ren­der a de­ci­sion un­til Wed­nes­day night or Thurs­day.

The Knicks be­lieve Stoudamire helps their chances to get James, even though James is said to pre­fer play­ing with Chris Bosh.

“We’ve got a big piece and we still have the cap money to get an­other big piece,” Knicks pres­i­dent Don­nie Walsh said of the sig­nif­i­cance of adding Stoudemire. “We’re in a bet­ter po­si­tion in the sense that, if you come to New York, you won’t come alone.”

Walsh said the Knicks com­mit­ted to Stoudemire, rather than wait­ing on Bosh, be­cause, “He stepped up front. We re­ally had to ac­knowl­edge that.”

“No one wanted to make the first move,” said Stoudemire, who grew up in nearby New­burgh, N.Y., “and I feel con­fi­dent enough to take that first step.”

While the Knicks can only hope Stoudemire makes them more at­trac­tive to James, the sense that con­tin­ues to project from his in­ner cir­cle is that the two-time MVP will de­cide to stay in Cleve­land.

“I don’t think it mat­ters,” a per­son close to James’ in­ner cir­cle told News­day. “I get the sense he is stay­ing.”

Chicago and New Jersey of­fi­cials still think they have a good shot at James.

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