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Report: Amar'e Stoudemire Could Play in Israel After Knicks Contract Expires

TORONTO, CANADA - April 11 :Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks attempts a free throw against the Toronto Raptors on April 11, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2014

Amar'e Stoudemire's NBA career may come to an end sooner than we think.

After managing to stay healthy for most of this season, the New York Knicks star looks like he has a few productive years left in that body of his—assuming he even wants to continue his career once his contract expires next summer.

According to the New York Post's Marc Berman, Stoudemire is part of a "four-man ownership group" that purchased 60 percent of Hapoel Jerusalem and "turned the franchise into the top team in the Israeli league." Once his contract ends next summer, Stoudemire indicated he may take his talents to Israel in order to "boost its profile."

"We’ll see," Stoudemire told Berman. "You can’t rule anything out. The future is unknown and so if I have an opportunity to [play in Israel] and am still in great health, it would be great. I have one more year left on my deal and we’ll go from there."

When asked about the matter, Stoudemire confirmed that playing in Israel after next season was a legitimate possibility, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley:

Last August, Dan Amira and Jennifer Vineyard of the Daily Intelligencer revealed that Stoudemire was applying for Israeli citizenship and already had an invitation to join their national team, so this isn't the first time he's flirted with the idea of playing there.

Comments he made to Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling in March, though, suggest that Stoudemire isn't only intent on remaining in the NBA, but that he wishes to stay with the Knicks well beyond next season.

"That's why I don't want to leave," he said. "I want to be here for the long haul and do whatever it takes to win, so whatever sacrifices I have to make, I will be willing to make them."

One year ago, the thought of Stoudemire playing for the Knicks past 2014-15 was laughable. His five-year contract had become a burden as he struggled to remain healthy and in the rotation. The hope was that the Knicks could trade him after this season, using his expiring contract as leverage.

But his resurgence has changed things.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 02: Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks drives against the Brooklyn Nets during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 02, 2014.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and
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STAT has missed only 17 games this season and has been especially productive during New York's failed postseason push, averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks on 65.2 percent shooting through the last five contests, per NBA.com (subscription required).

Although his bill of health remains beclouded by uncertainty, re-signing him to a short-term deal shouldn't be out of the question in 2015 if he is of sound body and mind, and the price is right. His career doesn't have to end with the Knicks either.

If he plays like he did this season for all of next year, there will be other teams knocking at his door, hoping he can deepen their lineup at a discount. It would be difficult for him to leave whatever money one team is offering on the table to play in a different country.

Really, it all comes down to next season. There's no guarantee Stoudemire begins or ends 2014-15 in New York. He could be traded. He could also remain with the Knicks and aggravate one of his old injuries.

Or, preferably, he could pick up where he's leaving off and finish next year strong, at which point he can decide to continue his basketball career in the NBA or Israel on his own terms.

 

*Salary information via ShamSports.

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