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Amar'e Stoudemire: Playing in Israel an option after next season

Amar'e Stoudemire has career averages of 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Amar'e Stoudemire has career averages of 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire told Marc Berman of the New York Post this week that he will consider playing overseas in Israel when his contract in New York expires after next season.

Technically, the six-time All-Star can use an early termination option to opt out after the Knicks' season ends this week, but doing so would mean leaving $23.4 million on the table for 2014-15. Instead, Stoudemire -- who has said he is Jewish by heritage -- hinted that he will consider the move to Israel after next season, according to Berman:

“We’ll see. 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.’’

The caveat there, of course, is whether Stoudemire -- who will be 32 at the start of next season, can remain in good health for another year and beyond next season; he has battled chronic knee issues and underwent multiple surgeries throughout his rollercoaster of a career. As of late, he has given the Knicks a boost in the frontcourt but has been on a minutes restriction for much of the season by head coach Mike Woodson.

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According to Berman, Stoudemire already had discussions with Israeli-American Ori Allon, who heads up the Hapoel ownership group, about possibly joining the franchise as a player; he is already part of a 4-man ownership group that includes superagent Arn Tellem. Together the group owns 60 percent of Hapoel Jerusalem, helping bring the organization to the top of the Israeli league. But even Allon admitted that it's a bit premature to talk about Stoudemire joining the team in a capacity other than part owner, according to Berman: 

“We’ve discussed it in the past. It would be tremendous and unbelievable but it’s still early. I think it’s a real possibility, but he played very well this season so it’s up to him.’’

Currently observing the Jewish holiday of Passover taking place this week, Stoudemire will echo the phrase typically said by Jews at the end of the traditional Seder meal, "Next year in Jerusalem." For him, the phrase now takes on new meaning.

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