Stoudemire denies the rumors


PHOENIX -- Suns forward Amare Stoudemire denied a report that he is reluctant to commit to Phoenix long term when he becomes a free agent this summer.

"It's still 50-50 and it's still going to be that way until a decision is made," Stoudemire said after the Suns practice Saturday morning. "I don't know where this guy [ESPN's Chad] Ford is getting his information from, but it's not coming from my agent, my manager or from myself."

Ford asked a source close to Stoudemire whether the talented power forward could re-sign with the Suns in the offseason despite hearing his name in trade rumors each of the past two seasons.

“I don't think it's going to happen," the source told Ford. "Amare feels like the organization disrespected him. Amare loves his teammates and has really enjoyed playing for the team these last few months, but he's reluctant to commit to Phoenix long-term."

When asked Sunday whether hearing his name come up in trade rumors the last two years would factor into his decision this summer, Stoudemire said, "It does factor in, absolutely.

"It's never easy going through trade rumors. It makes you feel somewhat unwanted. But that changed over the past four months or so. It definitely changed. I feel as if things may work out. We've just figure it out this summer, see if it works."

When deals involving Stoudemire collapsed near the trade deadline, Suns general manager Steve Kerr, owner Robert Sarver, Stoudemire's agent Happy Walters and Stoudemire all went out to dinner to patch things up.

The Suns got on a roll at the end of the season, winning 22 of their last 26 games including six straight playoff games coming into the Western Conference Finals, where they now trail the Lakers 0-2 in the best-of-7 series.

Stoudemire said he now believes the Suns tried to trade him for "economic reasons."

"I think it was all economic reasons," he said Sunday. "I think those were pretty much the main reasons why the trade rumors were coming up. It's one of the reasons why we didn't keep Shaq [Shaquille O'Neal]. Just economic reasons."

When asked whether 36-year-old point guard Steve Nash's timetable on retirement will play into his own decision about whether to re-sign with the Suns, Stoudemire said, "I don't know how much longer Steve has to play. He's been playing well up into his older ages, upper ages. Hopefully he goes out on top and we can get a championship for him before he leaves.

"You always want to play with a point guard. He's the quarterback of your team and every team has to have one in order to be successful. Right now we have Steve and when it's all said and done, Steve retires, hopefully Goran [Dragic] can step up and be that next guy for us. He's done a great job for us, we're trying to train him and get him ready for that position."

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com