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As the New York Knicks tried to finalize a contract with Amare Stoudemire, the New Jersey Nets didn't buckle in their free-agent border war for this reason:
They have Chris Bosh ranked above Stoudemire on their list of desired big men who could help them sign LeBron James.
The news that Stoudemire was close to a five-year, $100 million reunion with former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni -- first reported by Yahoo! Sports -- signaled the Knicks' extreme urgency to come away with something big in this free-agent summer, and to significantly upgrade their roster before James makes his final call.
A Stoudemire signing would send a strong message to James that the Knicks are dead serious about landing him. Does this development suddenly leapfrog the Knicks ahead of the Nets in the LeBron derby a day after the Nets were said to have outperformed their more prominent neighbors in meetings with James?
"It certainly doesn't hurt," said one executive involved in the chase. "I think LeBron likes both [Stoudemire and Bosh]."
But a source familiar with the Nets' thinking said their plans weren't seriously impacted by the Stoudemire bulletin because they're interested in other power forwards and see Bosh as the superior talent. "He's not as dinged up [as Stoudemire] and is a better all-around player," the source said.
Of course the Nets realize the hard part is securing a commitment from Bosh before LeBron decides where to spend the next three to six seasons.
"New Jersey meeting was very good as well," Bosh said on his Twitter account after his sitdown with the Nets in Chicago. "These guys really know how to sell a franchise."
Ian O'Connor is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.