Just like that, the winds of fortune change. Three days ago, Amar'e Stoudemire was expected to remain a Phoenix Sun. The Suns had gotten to the negotiating table early, often and hard. But the Suns wanted to go no further than four years for the explosive power forward, while Stoudemire and his agent were holding strong for five years. Finally, the Suns went to the table one last time Thursday night with a concession.
Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Suns offered a five year deal, with only the first three years guaranteed , and the last two dependent upon minutes. Stoudemire and his agent said no thanks, and began to pursue other offers.
The Suns? They opted to reach an agreement with Hakim Warrick, effectively ending their ties to Amar'e Stoudemire. An interesting side note: If the Suns do not reach an agreement to sign-and-trade Stoudemire (say, to the Rockets) in the next six days, in order to sign Warrick they'll have to renounce the rights to Stoudemire, meaning they'll be unable to facilitate said sign-and-trade of significant assets (info courtesy of Coro ).
So with Amar'e having left the Valley, who should show up?
Donnie Walsh and the PowerPoint toting Knicks. Yahoo! Sports reports that the Knicks are zeroing in on a 5-year maximum contract deal for Stoudemire. The move would be both surprising and a huge coup for Walsh, D'Antoni and company, who need to land a second max free agent in order to convince LeBron James to follow suit.
Signing Amar'e is no guarantee, just ask the Suns. But Stoudemire had his best seasons under Mike D'Antoni. There was a lot of talk that D'Antoni would never want to deal with Stoudemire's attitude again, but that obviously seems off. And somewhere, lurking in the shadows, is the fact that Joe Johnson, another former D'Antoni player, has not signed his max contract from the Atlanta Hawks yet, despite two sources confirming to CBSSports.com's Ken Berger that the contract is fully guaranteed.
All of a sudden, the Knicks could be right back in the thick of this. We'll keep you updated on if Stoudemire becomes a "done deal" in advance of the July 8th signing day.