Stoudemire talks looming free agency

Another big name wants in on the upcoming NBA free-agent superstar summit.

Amare Stoudemire, who is likely to opt out of the final year of his current contract with the Phoenix Suns, told AOL Fanhouse that he expects to join in talks with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson before free agency begins on July 1.

"I'm friends with LeBron, Dwyane, Chris [Bosh] -- all those guys are friends of mine," Stoudemire told AOL Fanhouse. "So I'm pretty sure they'll call me and we'll talk about a few things."

Wade told the Chicago Tribune last week that he planned to talk with James and Johnson before making a decision on where he would sign this summer. A source told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard that Bosh also would be part of those talks.

Wade said last week that he did not know yet when the players would talk. Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, said last week that no formal sit-down sessions among the headliners of this summer's class have been scheduled.

James, Wade and Bosh became close while playing together on the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal at the Beijing Games. While they've pondered the possibility of playing together in the NBA, only two of the stars are likely to wind up on the same team once the dust clears.

Last week, the NBA said Wade did not break any league tampering rules with his comments.

Under league rules, players cannot tamper with other players, though it's a given that players talking among themselves not only happens, but is impossible to regulate.

The NBA metes out discipline only in what it said are "the most egregious" cases, and said Wade's comments "do not meet that standard."

Stoudemire, who has spent all eight seasons with the Suns after coming to the NBA directly from high school, is due to make $17 million in the final year of his contract. He can opt out, and he wants a maximum deal.

Suns coach Alvin Gentry said Sunday that "you would expect" Stoudemire to opt out of his contract and test the free-agent market.

"If you're asking me, 'Do we want him back?' Yeah, we want him back," Gentry said.

Stoudemire has said that he is "50-50" on returning to the Suns. On Sunday, he said he would begin mulling his future Monday.

The Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat are among the teams with enough cap space to add one or two big-ticket free agents this offseason.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard was used in this report.