MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – If anyone in basketball knows how to look at the bigger picture, its Pat Riley.
Amare Stoudemire got recruited by the Miami Heat in 2010.
It's paying off, five years later.
One of the reasons why Stoudemire and the Heat struck a deal this summer was because of what was said when Miami was the first team to visit him during the wild free-agent summer five years ago. Both sides went in opposite directions then, but are finally together now after Stoudemire signed a one-year contract.
Stoudemire, the six-time All-Star who will be asked to play power forward and center in Miami, had to do a bit of recruiting this time around. He passed a physical, then passed an interview with Heat President Pat Riley — and said all the right things for this deal to get done.
"I didn't really say much about what I want as a basketball player, as far as playing time or my position on the court," Stoudemire said in a teleconference on Tuesday. "He needed to know exactly what I bring to the table. Miami was the first team that visited me back in 2010, so these guys are well-equipped to understand my style of play."
It's an evolving style of play.
Stoudemire can still score — he had a 26-point game last season and averaged 11.5 points in only 21 minutes. For his career, he's averaged 19.8 points in 794 games over 13 seasons.
But he turns 33 in November and has had bad knee issues in the past, so there may be some obvious questions about how large a workload he can actually handle.
"I feel great," Stoudemire said.
The Heat, with Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, probably won't ask Stoudemire to start much. Stoudemire might end up filling the role held in recent years by Chris Andersen — who might be traded in a salary and tax-shedding move. Or if Miami finds a way to keep all four of those close-to-7-footers, it could have a big-man rotation unlike perhaps any in the league.
"It could be really good," Stoudemire said. "There's a countless amount of opportunities."
For his part, Bosh — speaking Tuesday in Las Vegas — said he was stunned that Stoudemire chose Miami, and thrilled that it happened.
"We've hung out a few times," Bosh said. "Real good guy. I can't believe he came. I was very surprised. ... He's a really good guy and his work ethic, I've seen him work out a few times. He's going to bring that veteran leadership and work ethic to the team. I'm excited."
Bosh said he was also pleased to see Gerald Green join the Heat, taking the same deal that Stoudemire accepted.
"That lets me know they want to win now," Bosh said, "and I think they're in the right place."
Stoudemire said he had calls from other teams, presumably some that would have paid him more than the minimum that Miami offered. But he has plenty of ties to South Florida and the Heat already.
He's owned a home in the Miami area for the past seven years, used to work out at Florida International, took classes at the University of Miami, and has been teammates of Dwyane Wade (at the 2004 Olympics) and Goran Dragic (in Phoenix).
"I think with Miami, it's now time to make a push," Stoudemire said. "We have a team that understands what's there for us this year. We'll go into training camp with that mentality and see what we can do."
Notes: Bosh said he's close to getting his full lung capacity back after missing the second half of last season because of blood clots on one of his lungs.
He also reiterated that he will not have to remain on blood-thinning medication permanently, and plans to be off those meds in a few weeks. ... Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were again watching Miami's summer-league team in Las Vegas on Tuesday. ... Bosh said he's pleased with Miami having high expectations after keeping Wade (who he wasn't worried about retaining) and Dragic, plus adding pieces like Stoudemire and Green and drafting Justise Winslow No. 10 overall out of Duke.
"Now it's on us to really wrap our minds around it and exceed our expectations," Bosh said.
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