The summer of 2010 was already outfitted with headline names for the NBA’s free agency period but now there’s another to add to the pot. The Phoenix Suns’ Amar’e Stoudemire announced over the weekend that he’s likely to opt out of his contract and join an already impressive list of superstar free agents. “I’m friends with LeBron , Dwayne , Chris …all those guys are friends of mine,” Stoudemire told AOL Fanhouse. “So I’m pretty sure they’ll call me and we’ll talk about a few things.”

James, Wade and Bosh are expected to sit down for a roundtable discussion of their NBA futures before the July 1 start date of free agency. It’s widely expected that at least two of the All-Stars will team up for a run at the title next season.

With the expectation that Stoudemire was set to opt out of his contract this summer, the Suns reportedly tried to move the 27-year-old power forward before February’s trade deadline but were unable to do so. A potential deal to send Stoudemire to Cleveland was on the table but stalled at the last moment, forcing Cleveland into another direction and trading for Washington’s Antawn Jamison.

Stoudemire, a five-time All-Star, has been rumored in trade talks for the past few years but never came as close to being moved as he did this season. After a slow start to the year and trade rumors buzzing, Stoudemire closed the season strong after the Feb. 17 trade deadline passed. With averages of 26 points and nine rebounds over the final two months of the NBA regular season, Stoudemire helped the Suns to a 23-6 finish and third place in the Western Conference.

The Suns were ousted by the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the Western Conference finals, but Stoudemire performed well, averaging 25 points in the series. His 42-point, 11-rebound effort in game three paced Phoenix for their first win of the series and was Stoudemire’s most dominant performance of the postseason.

“I don’t understand why,” Stoudemire told reporters in February when asked why his name kept appearing in trade speculation for the past few seasons. “It’s not being explained to me why every year there’s always trade talk with me being involved. It’s a little difficult to deal with. They never really explain why the trade talk is coming, why they want to trade me. I’ve done a lot of work in the community. I’ve been trouble-free forever, so I just don’t understand.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO