With an officiating whistle and three games at his youth basketball camp
to monitor, Amar’e Stoudemire spotted familiar reporters courtside
"Uh-oh, I know what you want to ask about," Stoudemire said.
But the kids at Premier Courts in Gilbert got to him first.
"What team do you want to go to?" one asked.
"Right now, it’s the Phoenix Suns," he said.
"Are you ever going to leave the Suns?" another asked.
"Not sure yet," he said.
But Stoudemire later ruled out one of his three contract options, saying that he would not pick up his $17.7 million player option to finish his current contract with the Suns next season.
"There’s no chance of that at all," he said.
That means the forward would either sign a contract extension with the Suns or become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
He clarified that he believes he deserves a maximum-level extension, a five-year deal that would add on to his remaining contract year and pay him about $134 million over the next six seasons. The Suns have been more hesitant about contract length due to his knee surgeries.
"The most-important factor of playing for an organization is to be able to be totally comfortable and give them 100 percent, and that’s what I’ve done my whole career, so it’s only right to look for a maximum contract," Stoudemire said. "From the time I’ve been here, we’ve done great in the community, (made) three Western Conference finals, been in the playoffs and won 60 games or so in several years.
"We got the fans excited about basketball again, so what I don’t want is for me to have to leave and the fans are now not quite as excited about the game here. I want to keep the hype. I want to keep the fans involved. I want to keep everybody ecstatic about the Phoenix Suns."
If offered the maximum amount of money and years, Stoudemire said "there’s a very good chance" he would stay with Phoenix.
Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, said he expects to resume negotiations soon with Suns General Manager Steve Kerr, whose contract expires June 30. Walters said he and Kerr have not talked since the regular season.
"I’m just waiting on them (the Suns)," Stoudemire said. "We’re just being patient."