The announcements came just minutes apart late Friday afternoon: Six-time All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire is joining the Heat, strengthening the team’s power rotation. And face-of-the-franchise Dwyane Wade is officially back under contract.
Stoudemire, who signed a one-year deal for the $1.5 million veteran’s minimum, has missed considerable time with injuries (knee and back) since his most recent All-Star appearance in 2011, but he’s still a legitimate low-post presence.
“We are very fortunate that a proven All-Star like Amar’e has chosen the Miami Heat,” team president Pat Riley said. “He is going to bring gravitas, leadership and a hardworking mentality to our team as we look to win another championship.”
Stoudemire, 32, still can produce solid numbers: He averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds and shot 55.7 percent from the field in 36 games for the Knicks and 23 for Dallas last season.
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Meanwhile, Wade finalized a one-year, $20 million deal, weeks after he considered leaving the Heat because of a disagreement over how much he should be paid. In Milwaukee for a literacy event for his charitable foundation, Wade signed the contract in the back of a car.
Riley said the Heat is “thrilled” that Wade is back, noting that “for over a decade, Dwyane has embodied what it means to wear the Miami Heat uniform. He has been the pillar and constant of this organization and is a true champion in every sense of the word.”
Before meeting with Stoudemire on Friday, Riley also met with free agent guard Marcus Thornton, a skilled three-point shooter.
Thornton did not receive an offer, but the door was not closed to an offer at some point.
“Marcus was happy with the visit and appreciative,” said his agent, Tony Dutt. “We’ll see where it leads.”
The Heat initially targeted Thornton, telling him earlier this week what his role on the team potentially would be, before Gerald Green surprisingly accepted a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum.
The addition of the 6-10 Stoudemire — who figures to back up Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside — could be the precursor to a trade involving Chris Andersen or Josh McRoberts. The Heat has been looking to trim payroll to lessen its luxury-tax obligation.
Stoudemire was willing to take the minimum because he already has made $166 million in his career and because the Heat appealed to him.
“He has several teams interested, but Miami was a great fit for him personally,” said his agent, Travis King. “He has a lot of respect for Pat Riley. He’s friends with Dwyane and Chris [Bosh] and lives in Miami in the summer. He’s from Florida [Lake Wales]. He saw an opportunity to make a run at a championship for a year.
“It’s a great franchise. It’s always been intriguing for him to play with Chris and Dwyane. … The Heat was his first meeting in free agency in 2010.”
Stoudemire has battled knee issues in the past and played in 29, 65 and 59 games the past three seasons.
But he had no health setbacks during his 23-game stint in Dallas to close the season.
“He has a lot left in the tank,” King said. “It was a tough year with the Knicks, and his role wasn’t as prominent with Dallas as he would have thought. He just saw himself in a position to reestablish his market.
“If he plays the way we feel and he feels he’s going to play, I’m pretty sure he won’t be playing for the minimum next year.”
Stoudemire played the first eight seasons of his career with Phoenix before moving to the Knicks for the next 4 1/2. His career averages: 19.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 53.6 percent shooting.
Stoudemire has one particularly painful AmericanAirlines Arena memory: After a Knicks loss in Game 2 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, Stoudemire sustained a cut to his left hand, requiring stitches, after punching a fire extinguisher box in the visitors’ locker room.
After Stoudemire fouled out in Miami’s series-clinching win in Game 5, Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte announced Stoudemire had been “extinguished.” The Heat subsequently apologized to Stoudemire.
Stoudemire has appeared in several TV shows and movies, started his own clothing line and has his own record label. His roots also have been a subject of interest.
“I am proud to be a Hebrew and embrace my Jewish background,” he told The Jerusalem Post in 2010. “I have been aware since my youth that I am Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development.”
Green said Friday he has no regrets about settling for a minimum contract of $1.4 million.
“Once I heard that Miami wanted to give me an opportunity to come here, it wasn’t even about the money,” he said. “That was my whole goal, to be a part of something special, to be a part of a culture that’s all about winning.”
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek criticized Green’s defense last season, and Green said Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra “challenged me defensively. And I told them that I was going to accept their challenge.”
Of Hornacek’s comments, Green said: “I’m not going to dwell over what people have to say” but also spoke of criticism as a source of motivation “so I can be better.”
The Heat will be Green’s eighth team in eight seasons and “my goal is this to be the last team I play for, so we won’t have this conversation no more.”