DALLAS — Amare Stoudemire asked out of his contract with the New York Knicks because he wants to make a run at a championship.
The veteran forward has apparently decided Dallas is the place to spend the rest of this season chasing his first title.
A person with direct knowledge of the talks said night that Stoudemire has agreed to sign with the Mavericks after taking a buyout from the Knicks. He can’t make his verbal commitment official until he clears waivers Feb. 18.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn’t official, told The Associated Press that Stoudemire could be available when Dallas returns from the All-Star break Thursday at Oklahoma City.
The 32-year-old Stoudemire was waived Feb. 16 after requesting the Knicks buy out the remainder of his contract that was set to expire after this season. He’s likely to clear waivers.
“I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to contribute positively on the court and in the community,” Stoudemire said. “Although I leave the Knicks with a heavy heart, I wish the organization the best of luck. Once a Knick always a Knick.”
Dallas has needed frontcourt help since trading Brandan Wright in a deal that brought point guard Rajon Rondo from Boston.
Stoudemire averaged 17.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 255 games over five seasons with the Knicks, making the playoffs three times. He was a starter in the 2011 All-Star Game, the Knicks’ first in 14 years.
“His time here should be marked by recognizing his effort. It was 100 percent,” Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ President of basketball operations, said in a statement. “As we move forward in structuring this team, we will look for players that exhibit his desire to win.”
Carmelo Anthony, who wanted to play for the Knicks in part because Stoudemire had signed there in 2010, learned the news Feb. 15 after playing in the All-Star Game.
“Amare brought something back to New York that New York was kind of missing and needing for a long time,” Anthony said. “When he came, he brought back some of the excitement here for the game of basketball in New York. There was hope when he came back. People started believing in the New York Knicks once again. He was the main reason for that belief and for that hope when he first got here in New York.”
Stoudemire was an All-Star in Phoenix before signing a five-year contract worth about $100 million in 2010.
He helped the Knicks end a seven-year playoff drought his first season, but he missed significant time over the past few years because of assorted injuries. The Knicks had to monitor his minutes since his two knee operations during the 2012-13 season.
He can still score when able to play, averaging 12 points in 24 minutes this season.
“To see him leave, to see the situation where it’s at right now, I know what he wants and you have to respect that,” Anthony said.
“As an athlete, as a competitor, you only want the best for your friends, your close ones. He wants to play for a championship is what I’m hearing. He wants to play for a contender. I don’t think nobody should hold that away from him.”
(SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer)