Amar'e Stoudemire plans to use the All-Star break to decide whether to ask the New York Knicks for a contract buyout that could free him to potentially sign with a playoff contender.
"It's not an easy decision to make," Stoudemire told Yahoo Sports. "Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. …That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season."
Stoudemire, who hopes to return to the court on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets after being sidelined with a sprained right ankle, is in the final year of a five-year, $100 million contract. With Stoudemire making $23.4 million this season, it is virtually impossible for the Knicks to trade him before the Feb. 19 deadline.
The Knicks have the NBA's second-worst record at 10-39, but have played better of late.
"All possibilities at this point are still open," Stoudemire said of a possible buyout. "The door is still open for that. But at the same time, I am with the Knicks now. I got to stay optimistic about things and what we are doing here. I can't really focus on the future because it's not here.
"We still have a couple weeks left before it's all said and done. It's a decision I have to make with my family to figure out the best scenario for the near future."
One team that could have interest in Stoudemire if he becomes a free agent is the Los Angeles Clippers, whose coach Doc Rivers said the team would be in the market for buyout players. The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are also looking a big man. The Knicks, however, are more focused at this point on negotiating a buyout with forward Andrea Bargnani than Stoudemire, a league source said.
"I'm sure we will have an open discussion about it," Stoudemire said. "We have a great communicative relationship with the Knicks. I am sure we will make a sound decision together."
Stoudemire's injuries have kept him from living up to his massive contract. The Knicks have still appreciated his professionalism through all the injuries and losses. They could even try to re-sign him at a much lower salary this summer if he feels like he can continue to play.
Stoudemire, 32, is averaging 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.5 minutes in 32 contests. He says he still has interest in playing several more seasons before pursuing a career as a TV analyst.
"My heart always lies with the Knicks," Stoudemire said. "My loyalty is with [Knicks owner] Mr. [Jim] Dolan. I feel like New York is my home now. I feel like I'm a New Yorker for sure.
"I have a farm here. I have family and friends here. New York will always be my home whether I am here playing for the Knicks or not."
Stoudemire is scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony Tuesday for the refurbishment of his old playground in his hometown of Lake Wales, Fla. The next day the Knicks will play their last game before the All-Star break against the Orlando Magic. Considering the Knicks' struggles under new president Phil Jackson and first-year coach Derek Fisher, the break couldn't come faster for Stoudemire and his Knicks.
"The toughest part is staying motivated through all the ups and downs, keeping the guys competitive," Stoudemire said. "This requires an extreme, great amount of perseverance for something like this, especially for me to be 13 years in the NBA and dealing with this type of record. But, since we are here we have to become great leaders, work with the young guys on their mistakes and continue to improve."
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