Amare-Stoudemire

Amare-Stoudemire

NEW YORK — Amar’e Stoudemire says he’s leaving the New York Knicks with a “heavy heart.” Now he’s looking for an opportunity to join a contender.

The Knicks announced on Monday afternoon that they have waived Stoudemire, who signed a five-year, $99.7 million contract with New York in July 2010.

Stoudemire, making $23.4 million this season, is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET and become a free agent.

“I feel truly blessed to have been able to play for the incredible New York fans, Mr. Dolan, my coaches, teammates and the entire Knicks organization for the past five years,” Stoudemire said in a statement released by the team. “I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to contribute positively on the court and in the community.

“Although I leave the Knicks with a heavy heart, I wish the organization the best of luck. Once a Knick always a Knick.”

Sources with knowledge of his thinking told ESPN on Monday that Stoudemire is leaning toward signing with the Dallas Mavericks. Another source told ESPNDallas.com that the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns also have expressed interest.

Sources also say the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers — all playoff contenders in the market for extra size — ‎are not actively pursuing Stoudemire. The 6-foot-10 center is in his 13th NBA season and has averaged 12.0 points and 6.8 rebounds in 36 games for New York this season..

Stoudemire, 32, has stated a desire to compete for a championship. He posted a farewell message, written in the form of a poem on his Instagram account Monday.

Knicks president Phil Jackson said Stoudemire initiated the idea of leaving the team. He also praised Stoudemire for his effort over the past five seasons in New York.

“His time here should be marked by recognizing his effort — it was 100 percent,” Jackson said in a statement. “As we move forward in structuring this team, we will look for players that exhibit his desire to win.”

Knicks general manager Steve Mills added that he appreciates Stoudemire’s contributions.

“Everyone here at the Knicks organization appreciates the contribution Amar’e has made to the team and the entire City of New York over the past five seasons,” Mills said. “We have developed a relationship that has translated into a long-term friendship, and it will continue through the remainder of his NBA career, and beyond.”

Stoudemire leaves a mixed legacy in New York. The Knicks made the playoffs in Stoudemire’s first three seasons but have regressed since.

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