LAS VEGAS (AP) - Amare Stoudemire will not play for the United States in next month’s world championships because of problems insuring his contract, a damaging blow to the Americans on the day training camp opened.
The New York Knicks new forward was expected to be one of the Americans’ top players in Istanbul, Turkey, but the team learned of the change of plans Tuesday.
The Knicks asked Stoudemire to pull out Monday night and he understood, though he was looking forward to rejoining the team after playing for the Americans in the 2007 Olympic qualifying tournament. He could still play in the 2012 Olympics if the insurance issues are worked out.
“We can only address right now, this year,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. “The fact that we were notified by his team that they were pulling him we didn’t get specific about next year or anything beyond the immediate information.”
ESPN.com first reported that Stoudemire might not be available to play in the championships that begin Aug. 28.
Stoudemire has had microfracture knee surgery among his injuries, a major reason Phoenix wouldn’t offer him a maximum length contract. The Knicks then gave him a five-year deal worth nearly $100 million, even while saying they weren’t sure if the contract could be insured.
According to the Knicks, the insurance policy from Stoudemire’s contract with the Suns is still in place, but it excludes his surgically repaired left knee. The Knicks have begun working to secure insurance on his new deal, but that hasn’t been completed.
“I understand the New York Knicks’ concern, also wanting to make sure I’m totally healthy for next season,” Stoudemire said. “I’m looking forward to having a big year with the Knicks organization, so I understand both sides.”
Without proper insurance, NBA teams can prevent players from taking part in summer events.
“He had to pull out because he couldn’t get insurance on his knees. So, he’s not able to play,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni, who is an assistant with the U.S. team. “I don’t know if his (future USA Basketball) status has changed or not. I have no idea. I hate it for him, but it’s business.”
With the players who led the Americans to the 2008 Olympics gold medal taking the summer off, USA Basketball was counting on Stoudemire.
“He’s disappointed, we’re disappointed, but we have to honor the team’s request, decision to pull him. I think it was late notice,” Colangelo said. “He had a big year. He’s healthy, he was hungry, and so we lose that. But having said that, it opens up another opportunity for another big.”
Asked about his commitment to playing in the world championships recently while taking questions from the media on Twitter, Stoudemire wrote: “I’m so ready to play for USA. There isn’t anything that would stop me for playing for the US.”
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