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