Mavs keen if Stoudemire available

The Dallas Mavericks would be considered front-runners to sign Amar'e Stoudemire if the 13-year veteran opts to pursue a contract buyout from the New York Knicks, according to league sources.

Stoudemire made it clear in his public comments that he's not yet sure if he wants to seek a buyout from the Knicks to join a contender for the stretch run, but sources told ESPN.com that Dallas has quickly emerged as a prime landing spot if he becomes a free agent.

The Mavericks remain keen to sign Stoudemire's fellow former All-Star big man Jermaine O'Neal, sources said, and are prepared to make the needed roster room to accommodate both O'Neal and Stoudemire should they become available.

In the short term, sources said, Dallas is actively searching for a big man worthy of a 10-day contract to bolster its frontcourt while O'Neal continues to try to get himself NBA-ready via private workouts in the Dallas suburb of Southlake. ESPN.com reported last month that the Mavericks were confident they would ultimately fend off interest from the Portland Trail Blazers and other contending teams and win the race to sign O'Neal, but adding the 18-year veteran -- once he fully commits to coming back -- is now expected after the All-Star break.

Stoudemire, who is in the final season of a five-year, $99.7 million contract with the Knicks, told Yahoo! Sports this week that he would spend the All-Star break pondering his future, specifically whether to ask the last-place Knicks for a buyout to give himself an opportunity to join a team in the playoff hunt.

"It's not an easy decision to make," Stoudemire told Yahoo! "Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. ... That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season."

Dallas has been exploring various options to add frontcourt depth after giving up key reserves Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder in the December trade with Boston for Rajon Rondo.

The Mavs can only offer Stoudemire the veteran's minimum, but he would likely have a significant role off the bench, as a candidate for minutes at power forward and center behind Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler.

The 6-foot-10 Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, has averaged 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in 33 games for the Knicks this season despite dealing with a variety of injuries. He missed 14 of the previous 18 games -- due to ankle, wrist and knee injuries -- before returning in Friday night's 92-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

The 10-40 Knicks have had internal discussions about a possible buyout for Stoudemire but have yet to approach the player about it, sources told ESPN.com's Ian Begley earlier this week.

Stoudemire, 32, has said the decision to request a buyout would be difficult because of his loyalty to Knicks owner Jim Dolan. But he likewise acknowledged in the Yahoo! interview that the constant losing has made it hard for him to remain motivated while playing for the Knicks.

The Mavs are 34-18 and in sixth place in the Western Conference, likely headed to the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons. The Los Angeles Clippers (33-18) are another West playoff contender expected to have interest in Stoudemire, with Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers saying recently that his team would be active in the buyout market.

"All possibilities at this point are still open," Stoudemire said this week. "The door is still open for that. But at the same time, I am with the Knicks now. I got to stay optimistic about things and what we are doing here. I can't really focus on the future, because it's not here.

"We still have a couple weeks left before it's all said and done. It's a decision I have to make with my family to figure out the best scenario for the near future."