Amar'e Stoudemire may take his talents to the Holy Land in 2015.
Stoudemire is part owner of a professional team in Jerusalem and said on Tuesday that he "absolutely" is considering a move to play for the Israeli squad in 2015 -- after his current contract expires.
"It would be big-time if I was to play there after my contract year. It would be massive not only for Israel as a country but also for the basketball club. So it's a high chance," Stoudemire said Tuesday morning after the Knicks' shootaround in Brooklyn.
Stoudemire's interest in playing for his Israeli team, Hapoel Jerusalem, was first reported by the New York Post. It is preliminary at this point. The 31-year-old is in the fourth year of a five-year $100 million contract. He is owed $23.4 million next season.
"It's like a year and a half away," the power forward said. "Right now my focus is to finish the season off strong and have a successful season next year. Then after that, we're going to go from there and see what the opportunities are."
Stoudemire entered the season on a minutes restriction after undergoing three knee surgeries in a 12-month span. Once the minutes limits were lifted, Stoudemire flourished.
Since being inserted into the starting lineup in early March, Stoudemire has averaged 16.6 points per game on 57 percent shooting.
Mike Woodson said on Sunday that the Knicks wouldn't have made their late playoff push without Stoudemire's contributions.
The power forward's future in New York is uncertain.
New president Phil Jackson may try to unload Stoudemire's expiring contract in a trade this summer or prior to the next season's trade deadline.
Also, when thinking about Stoudemire's future in Israel, it's worth noting that he will likely draw interest on the free-agent market once his contract expires. But teams could be wary because of Stoudemire's long history of knee ailments.
So that's one reason why Israel could be an option for Stoudemire in 2015.
Stoudemire, who has said he has Jewish roots, is part of a four-man ownership group that purchased 60 percent of Hapoel Jerusalem last summer. The team is in the midst of a successful campaign. They enter play Tuesday in second place in the Israel Basketball Super League standings -- the top league in the country.
"It's been great," Stoudemire said. "We definitely exceeded expectations this year (and) it's an opportunity to do something special in Israel. It's great to provide basketball back to the homeland and it would be phenomenal to increase that basketball awareness there."
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