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Stoudemire 'not a big fan' of McGrady; Suns beat Knicks

Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, left, greets New

Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, left, greets New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, right, and assistant coach Phil Weber, center. (March 26, 2010) Credit: AP

PHOENIX - Amar'e Stoudemire spoke highly of Mike D'Antoni and the prospect of being reunited with him in New York. But he wasn't nearly as complimentary about Tracy McGrady.

The All-Star power forward for the Suns - who scored 18 points as Phoenix beat the Knicks, 132-96, at U.S. Airways Arena Friday night - declared himself "not a big Tracy McGrady fan."

Asked if he meant as a person or a player, Stoudemire, with no expression, replied, "Both."

Both players went to high school in the Orlando area. Stoudemire said his beef with McGrady stems from when he approached McGrady at a high school football game to ask advice about making the jump from high school to the NBA and McGrady, then a star with the Magic, apparently blew him off.

"He pretty much didn't say anything," Stoudemire said.

McGrady was incredulous when the story was relayed to him. "I talked to him on the phone," he said. McGrady insists the two have a good relationship and share a kinship because both are from Polk County in Florida.

"He's -- with y'all, man," McGrady said.

But when told McGrady had said that, Stoudemire made it clear he wasn't joking.

Stoudemire said his issue with McGrady wouldn't be enough to dissuade him from signing with the Knicks as a free agent this summer. "I can be teammates with anybody," he said. "Really not that big of a deal . . . My respect for him is still somewhat there."

The same goes for D'Antoni, whom Stoudemire slighted a few times after the coach left the Suns in May 2008. In August 2008, Stoudemire praised D'Antoni's replacement, Terry Porter, for putting more emphasis on defense and told Dime Magazine it was "something that we haven't practiced at all in the previous three years."

Though D'Antoni raved about the season the 6-10 Stoudemire is having (22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds per game before Friday night) coming off career-threatening eye surgery last season - "He's playing as well as he's ever played, if not better," D'Antoni said - Stoudemire said he isn't really sure if D'Antoni would want him in New York.

"I haven't talked to him about it, but playing with him was successful and I'm pretty sure he'd like to have more success and so would I," he said. "But you got to see how it will play out."

The Suns took calls from the Cleveland Cavaliers, who tried to acquire Stoudemire around the All-Star break, but their intention is to sign him to an extension. Stoudemire, however, clearly wants to test the market and said he thinks the odds are "50-50" that he will stay in Phoenix. He went as far as to say he "wouldn't necessarily say that" leaving would be hard for him to do.

It's not something Suns general manager Steve Kerr wants to hear as his team prepares for the playoffs. But those are words that Knicks fans hope to hear from the lips of Stoudemire's pal, LeBron James. Perhaps James, who lobbied hard for the Cavs to trade for Stoudemire, would consider joining him in New York.

And if not the Knicks, Stoudemire certainly will get calls from teams such as the Heat, where his friend Dwyane Wade wants him, and the Chicago Bulls, where he could join with another All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose.

But he did say there is something special about New York and the potential there, adding: "I'll be totally open this summer."

Notes & quotes: Al Harrington had 24 points, David Lee added 21 points and 13 rebounds and Danilo Gallinari had 16 points for the Knicks. The Suns' Leandro Barbosa had 18 points.


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