Another potential free agent could be off the NBA market well before it
even opens. And while that might be bad news for the Knicks and Nets, it
could be good news for David Lee.
Suns forward Amar’e Stoudemire, a possible prime target of the Knicks
and Nets this summer, has been offered a contract extension, according
to Fanhouse.com, which quoted a source as saying that the two sides are
"getting closer (financially) to where they should be."
Stoudemire is owed $17.6 million next season but can opt out of his contract on June 30, which seemed like a foregone conclusion earlier in the season. But the Web site reported on Friday that the Suns are now "determined" to keep Stoudemire and offered him an extension last week. If Stoudemire does re-sign with Phoenix, the Nets would likely make a strong push to sign the Knicks’ Lee, which could lead to a bidding war between the two local teams.
Though the Knicks still have their sights set on LeBron James, they have already lost out on the chance to sign one of the other players they were eyeing – Marcus Camby, who re-signed with Portland last week. Potential free agent Manu Ginobili also re-signed with the Spurs earlier this season, and the Knicks and Nets had better hope the trend doesn’t continue as both clubs plan to rebuild through free agency.
Stoudemire has been complimentary toward the Nets, saying in January that he saw a lot of "potential" in them just before they fell to 3-38 with a loss in Phoenix. Asked if he would ever consider playing for the Nets, Stoudemire said, "There are some teams you may say no way (to), but I don’t think the Nets are one of them."
Stoudemire then made similar comments when the Suns visited the Meadowlands in March, leading some to believe that the Nets would have a good chance to sign him if he decided to leave Phoenix. But that same night, Suns general manager Steve Kerr told the Daily News that Stoudemire is "somebody I want to keep. … We’re going to try to do our best to do so."
The Nets are desperate to upgrade at power forward, where Yi Jianlian has been a disappointment. But with Yi supporter Kiki Vandeweghe, the Nets’ GM, no longer coaching the team, they are more likely to phase Yi out of the starting lineup or trade him.
On a Twitter post this past week, oustspoken small forward Chris Douglas-Roberts, whose future with the team is in doubt, wrote: "I’m sorry but if I’m still a Net next year, our first option should be Amare Stoudamire. Let’s be real here. He’s the most REALISTIC option."