7. New York Knicks give Amar’e Stoudemire a payday in 2010
The summer of 2010 was a seismic one in the NBA. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh all signed contracts to play for the Miami Heat — the Boston Celtics re-upped their “Big 3” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen — and the New York Knicks even got in on the fun.
New York took a big swing in free agency, landing Phoenix Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire on a five-year, $100 million contract as part of a sign-and-trade. At the time, Stoudemire had been named to four of the last five Western Conference All-Star teams, only being left off of the 2005-06 squad when he played just three games the entire year.
He was a 27-year-old athletic forward, seemingly entering his prime. Why wouldn’t the Knicks sign him?
Stoudemire’s first season in New York was fantastic. He averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game on 50.2% shooting from the field. Plus, Stoudemire was named to his fifth straight All-Star team and helped the Knicks convince Carmelo Anthony to force a trade to New York.
The Knicks made their return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 but were quickly eliminated by the Celtics in the opening round. They also qualified for the postseason in the following two campaigns, but things weren’t the same for the star big man.
From 2012 on, Stoudemire started dealing with an onslaught of injuries — which had been a concern of the Suns before his departure. The continued wear-and-tear affected his game, causing his scoring average to drop to 17.5 points per game in the 2011-12 season and then to 14.2 points per game in 2012-13 — a season where he played just 29 games, all of which came off the bench.
The $20 million average salary became a burden to the Knicks and the front office. Stoudemire was eventually waived in 2015, ending his time in New York.