OAKLAND, Calif. - Count the Knicks out of the Amare Stoudemire Sweepstakes, which has become the buzz of the NBA leading into the All-Star break. According to multiple sources, among the many calls Phoenix Suns executive Steve Kerr fielded about the availability of Stoudemire, one came from Knicks president Donnie Walsh. But nothing came of it other than an understanding that the Suns would not send the 6-11 all-star forward/center to Mike D'Antoni's Knicks.
"The sense was they wouldn't do anything with New York," one person with knowledge of the situation said.
It was similar to when D'Antoni favorites Boris Diaw and Raja Bell were traded in December to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Knicks wanted both players but were unable to make a deal with the Suns. Diaw and Bell are eligible to be traded again, but it is not likely the Bobcats, who will be competing with the Knicks for the final playoff spot, are interested in giving up either player.
Stoudemire, who can opt out and become a free agent in 2010, thrived in D'Antoni's up-tempo system in Phoenix but has since struggled with the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal in the frontcourt. The highly athletic big man, who isn't a good defender but is usually among the league leaders in blocks (this season he has only 1.08 per game), would fill an obvious need for the Knicks at center and instantly turn them into a legitimate playoff contender. Going into last night's game against the Warriors, the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday, were two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot.
Crawford may opt out
Jamal Crawford is happy in the Bay Area but is "still sometimes a little shocked" about the suddenness of the trade that sent him to the Warriors for Al Harrington on Nov. 21. The 29-year-old guard is doing his usual scoring, averaging 19 points in 35 games going into last night. Crawford has a two-year player option for $19.3 million this summer, but he could opt out and test the free-agent market.