NBA Writer: Thunder Need To Bite The Bullet With Westbrook

Amar’e Stoudemire signed a contract with the New York Knicks on Tuesday – not to play, but to retire.

Stoudemire, 33, averaged 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 14 seasons with the Suns, Knicks, Mavericks and Heat, and while he enjoyed every stop along the way, he definitely loved playing in New York.

“Oh, he definitely did,” CBSSports.com NBA writer Jared Dubin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “You saw that immediately when he signed with the Knicks and stood out in front of the Garden and declared that the Knicks were back. The first two months of that 2010-11 season, he was just unbelievable. He averaged like 26 points, nine rebounds, two assist, a steal, two blocks a night. He was playing like 39, 40 minutes a night. There were somewhat unjustified-but-still-very-cool MVP chants every night at the Garden.”

Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, played in New York from 2010 to 2015. He started 78 games in 2010-11 but was limited by injuries over the next several seasons.

“You could tell, even during the seasons where he was injured, it was not like he was one of those guys that was hurt and never worked hard to try to come back on the court,” Dubin said. “He always worked as hard as anybody around there and kept himself in ridiculous shape. He was always great with the media, whether it was in the locker room or coming on shows like yours. He was a guy that really, really loved playing in New York and obviously wanted to be there very badly. His best years did come in Phoenix, but like he said in his statement, New York was closer to his heart.”

Elsewhere around the league, the Thunder are trying in earnest to sign Russell Westbrook to an extension.

“The most important thing for them is trying to convince Westbrook to do the renegotiate-and-extend, just like James Harden just did,” Dubin said. “Because they didn’t bring back Dion Waiters, they now have enough cap space to actually raise Westbrook’s salary by about seven or eight or nine million dollars – plus tack on three more years – and bring his total compensation over the next four seasons to around what it would be if he played out this season and signed another three-year deal. Obviously they want to convince him to do that so they can get him locked in now and not have to go through free agency next summer like they did with Durant because that could wind up with them losing him. If they don’t get him to commit to that, though, they really have to seriously explore trading him. You can’t lose two top-five, top-10 type guys and not get anything back for either of them. It’s just not something that can happen. If you don’t get the commitment, it’s hard, but you almost have to bite the bullet just because it could lead to the destruction of the franchise for a few years.”

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