Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t have to join the Dallas Mavericks.
He could have cruised with the Knicks for the remainder of the season, while collecting the entire amount owed to him on his contract before then leaving as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Instead, Stoudemire left money on the table — $2.5 million to be exact — to join what he believed would be a playoff contender. But after a 33-point home loss to the Cavaliers, the team’s fifth in its last seven games, Stoudemire ripped his new teammates for a lack of focus during this recent slide.
“I came here to win, and we’re [4 ½] games out of being out of the playoffs, which is unacceptable,” Stoudemire said after the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to a 127-94 win over the Mavs at the American Airlines Center. “This is something we can’t accept. We’ve got to find a way to refocus. We’ve got to key into the details of the game of basketball.
“We can’t cheat the game. We can’t screw around in games and practices and joke around all the time and figure we’re going to win games. This is the pros. It’s the highest level of basketball. We’ve got to act that way.”
Stoudemire has only been in Dallas for 11 games, and the team’s record during that time is just five wins against six losses.
It’s unclear if Stoudemire has the juice in the locker room at this stage of his career for his words to carry any weight; he’s averaging 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds for Dallas in 17.5 minutes per contest. But as a veteran now in his 13th season, he’s not going to have any reservations about speaking his mind.