NEW YORK >> Amare Stoudemire started the New York Knicks moving forward, before his injuries hastened their return to the bottom.
Now he wants to look elsewhere for a chance at a championship.
The veteran forward agreed to a buyout of his contract with the team, a person with knowledge of the deal said early Monday. Stoudemire will be free to sign with another team once he clears waivers.
Carmelo Anthony, who wanted to play for the Knicks in part because Stoudemire had signed there in 2010, learned the news Sunday after playing in the NBA All-Star Game.
“Amare brought something back to New York that New York was kind of missing and needing for a long time,” Anthony said. “When he came, he brought back some of the excitement here for the game of basketball in New York. There was hope when he came back. People started believing in the New York Knicks once again. He was the main reason for that belief and for that hope when he first got here in New York.”
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the buyout hasn’t been announced. It was first reported by the Daily News of New York.
Stoudemire was an All-Star in Phoenix before signing a five-year contract worth about $100 million in 2010. He helped the Knicks end a seven-year playoff drought and reach the postseason his first season, but he missed significant time over the last few seasons because of assorted injuries. The Knicks had to monitor his minutes since his two knee operations during the 2012-13 season.
He can still score when able to play, averaging 12 points in 24 minutes per game this season. So he may draw interest from contending teams before the regular-season schedule resumes Thursday.
“To see him leave, to see the situation where it’s at right now, I know what he wants and you have to respect that,” Anthony said. “As an athlete, as a competitor, you only want the best for your friends, your close ones. He wants to play for a championship is what I’m hearing. He wants to play for a contender. I don’t think nobody should hold that away from him.”