NEW YORK -- "Empire State of Mind" blared from speakers in the middle of Madison Square Garden. Flat-screen televisions with the slogan "THIS IS STAT CITY" flanked the dais where the New York Knicks officially announced the signing of Amare Stoudemire.
This was supposed to be a celebration -- two years in the making -- with the Knicks' addition of their best big man since Patrick Ewing. But there was no denying that the mood felt somewhat somber at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. With LeBron James' announcement Thursday night that he is joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat, the Knicks know they'll need more luck than Allan Houston's unforgettable runner in 1999 -- it bounced on the rim several times before falling in -- to beat the hated Heat again.
The 6-foot-10 Stoudemire officially comes to New York via a sign-and-trade. The Knicks sent a trade exception and possibly a draft pick to the Suns while Stoudemire signed a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million. The exception is believed to be worth about $16.5 million and the draft pick likely will be a second-rounder sent to Phoenix.
Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh said the Knicks did the sign-and-trade as a courtesy to Stoudemire, who didn't want to leave Phoenix with nothing.
"This is a very big addition to our team and the future of our team," Walsh said.
After James' announcement, Knicks forward David Lee's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told ESPN The Magazine's Chad Ford that Lee had agreed to a sign-and-trade worth $80 million dollars over six years with the Golden State Warriors.
The Knicks tried their best to make the day all about Amare even if they, and the rest of the NBA, were in a LeBron State of Mind.
The move reunites Stoudemire with Mike D'Antoni, his former coach in Phoenix. Stoudemire is a fearless finisher on the pick-and-roll and helped the Suns average 58 victories in D'Antoni's four full seasons there.
"We won a lot of games together and hopefully we'll be successful here," D'Antoni said.
"We have taken a big step with Amare and we will take another big step whether that is today or tomorrow or six months from now," D'Antoni said. "Everything now is going to be about winning. Before it was about clearing space."
The Knicks have nearly $19 million left this summer after not getting James.
"If LeBron opts [elsewhere]," D'Antoni said before James announced his decision to join the Heat, "we will have to go to other guys. Our goal is to get another max guy sometime. Whether that is now or in a trade or a sign-and-trade or whether we wait for another free-agency market, that will be our goal down the road."
Walsh said New York would be able to afford another max player next summer.
In the meantime, Stoudemire gives the Knicks a player who has averaged 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds since he was the ninth pick in the 2002 draft -- two spots after the Knicks passed on the player who had lived for a time in upstate New York.
The Suns worried about his injury history in refusing to offer the six-year contract they were allowed, given Stoudemire's multiple knee operations, including one major microfracture procedure in 2005-06. But he played all 82 games last season in helping Phoenix reach the conference finals, and the Knicks believe he has many dominant years left.
"When he decides to do something, the things he can do, you can't stop," Walsh said.
JORDAN RULES: The Knicks also announced they acquired the draft rights to center Jerome Jordan from Milwaukee in exchange for cash considerations. The 7-foot, 253-pound center from Tulsa was selected in the second round (44th overall) of the 2010 NBA draft.
Jordan averaged 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks at Tulsa.