Amare Stoudemire will opt out of the final year of his contract if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Phoenix Suns before the deadline at the end of this month. The All-Star power forward said there was “no chance” he would exercise the final year of his contract with the Suns without an extension, which would pay him about $17.7 million.
With Steve Kerr now out as general manager, the repercussions can be felt all the way in South Florida. Kerr played an integral role in discussions with agent Happy Walters. Over the course of the past few months, the two negotiated about as amicably as parties on opposing sides can on an extension that would have kept Stoudemire in Phoenix through 2015.
The Suns, it appears, have significantly hurt their chances of keeping Stoudemire. Those talks will now need to start anew. Walters expects to receive a finalized, formal extension offer before free agency begins on July 1, but the absence of Kerr means there is mystery now where there was none before. Unless the Suns come equipped with a maximum offer for three additional years (through the 2013/14 season) for a combined total of approximately $61 million (approximately $79 million including Stoudemire’s player option for next season), it’s likely Stoudemire will be on his way to test the free agent waters. Even with such an offer, the apparent lack of direction may be enough to turn Stoudemire away.
The Suns’ loss could be the Heat’s gain.
When healthy, Stoudemire is perhaps the most explosive low post presence in the game today. He averaged 23.1 points and 8.9 rebounds last season while playing all 82 regular season games, and was especially effective after the Suns decided against trading him at the All-Star break. His contributions on the court certainly merit at-or-near maximum contract consideration, which could pay him as much as $100 million over five seasons.
But such a long-term commitment is terrifying for a man so prone to injury. Read more…