In 2010, the Houston Rockets made a run at Amar’e Stoudemire in free agency, but he ultimately turned them down.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is known to go big-game hunting, as it pertains to adding stars to the team. Morey has admitted to a lack of desire to build the roster through the draft, which isn’t surprising considering how the Rockets are buyers in the trade market essentially every year.
Another method Morey has utilized more than many other executives is free agency, as we oftentimes hear about the Rockets pursuing the top free agents every year . A good example of this was the Jimmy Butler speculation of the 2019 offseason, as Morey and the Rockets made it known that Butler was the top target, before Butler ultimately selected the Miami Heat.
Perhaps one of the best examples of Morey’s big-game hunting in free agency took place in 2010, which was one of the best free agent classes in league history. If you recall, that free agent class included LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who were all All-Stars.
The Rockets had been linked to Bosh and Stoudemire at the time, as they pursued both players. Bosh joined forces with LeBron and D.Wade to form “The Big Three” in Miami, which is hard to fault him for. But Stoudemire had a much different reason for turning down the Houston Rockets, which he explained on the Knuckleheads podcast, with Darius Miles and his former teammate Quentin Richardson.
Stoudemire explains why he turned down Rockets in 2010
“Free agency hit. Miami called me, Houston called me, New York called me. So I’m thinking ‘what would be the best scenario?’
I was like ‘you know what?’ I’ve got history with Mike D’Antoni, I was raised in New York, I was in New York for seven of my childhood years, I loved New York City. It was a great chance to not only turn the team around, but also build my brand off the court.”
Stoudemire ultimately chose the New York Knicks, who inked him to a five-year deal worth $100 million. As Stoudemire pointed out, he followed current Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to New York, as the two had success with the Phoenix Suns, along with all-time great Steve Nash.
The Knicks also landed former Houston Rockets forward Carmelo Anthony midway through Stoudemire’s first season in the Big Apple, to form an All-Star duo. But D’Antoni lasted less than two full seasons with the superstar tandem, as he was fired midway through his 2011-12 campaign.
Stoudemire and ‘Melo were teammates for a little more than six seasons, and the Knicks made three playoffs appearances. Of those appearances, they were first-round exits twice, and they never reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rockets ultimately benefited from not landing Stoudemire, as he regressed after his first season with the Knicks, due to injuries. Stoudemire’s scoring declined each season from 2011-2014, and he missed a combined 105 games during that span.
The Houston Rockets missed the playoffs for the first two years of Stoudemire’s deal with the Knicks, up until acquiring James Harden prior to the start of the 2012-13 season. Once the Rockets landed Harden, they stopped missing on superstars, as they landed Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook, with Jimmy Butler being the only recent exception.