MIAMI -- NBA veteran Amar'e Stoudemire believes his improved health, deep ties to new teammates and a willingness to play any role will help him push the Miami Heat back into title contention.
"It's whatever the coaching staff asks," Stoudemire said during a media conference call Tuesday. "I can play however much or however long he needs me to. You know, it's whatever it takes to win."
That's expected to require the six-time All-Star to come off the bench and accept limited minutes in Miami's power rotation behind starters Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. Stoudemire, 32, was the latest addition in an offseason retooling for the Heat, who are regrouping from their first losing season in six years after a 37-45 finish.
Miami missed the playoffs last season after making four straight trips with LeBron James to the NBA Finals, which included consecutive championship seasons in 2012 and 2013. But the Heat slipped into the lottery last season after James returned to Cleveland as a free agent a year ago.
The Heat were devastated by frontcourt injuries late last season, but currently have a logjam in the frontcourt. Bosh and Whiteside are the projected starters at power forward and center, with Stoudemire now in the reserve mix alongside Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Josh McRoberts.
"I'm sure coach [Erik] Spoelstra has to figure out how to orchestrate this entire thing," Stoudemire said Tuesday. "I bring instant scoring, something I've been doing my entire career without a problem. But I feel that knowing I'm a [power forward] and a [center], to utilize that advantage is great for us. We just have to make sure we are able to utilize whatever we have on this team to reach our full potential."
Stoudemire's addition on a one-year, $1.5 million deal is one of several roster moves the Heat made in recent days in an attempt to solidify the core group from last season and also mix in specialists. The Heat have already re-signed point guard Goran Dragic to a five-year deal worth nearly $90 million, brought back catalyst Dwyane Wade on a one-year deal for $20 million and saw Luol Deng opt into the final season of his contract.
In addition to signing the 13-year veteran in Stoudemire, the Heat also selected swingman Justise Winslow with the No. 10 pick in the June 25 draft and also signed journeyman swingman Gerald Green.
Stoudemire will likely play a role in Miami similar to the one he performed last season in Dallas, where he spent the final two months of the season after being bought out of what was remaining on a five-year, $100 million deal he signed with New York in 2010.
In 23 games with the Mavericks, Stoudemire averaged 10.8 points and 3.7 rebounds off the bench behind starters Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler. He also shot 58.1 percent from the field in 16.5 minutes. That production is significantly down from his career averages of 19.8 points and 8.1 rebounds a game, but Stoudemire has found ways to remain effective in reduced minutes over the past few seasons after he recovered from multiple injuries, including recurring knee issues while in New York.
The Heat had been the first team to meet with Stoudemire during the 2010 free-agency period, but elected to instead sign Bosh as part of an overhaul highlighted by the addition of James to also join Wade. At the time, the Heat were among teams that had concerns over Stoudemire's knees.
"I feel great," Stoudemire said regarding his health. "We still have another three, four months to go before the season starts. But so far, I'm building off a strong season from last year. And now, it's two straight years of getting stronger and I feel that's a positive thing for me. Whatever it takes to win, my body is strong enough and willing to do that."
Stoudemire's signing last week brought the Heat's roster total to 17 players who are under either fully guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts for next season, which is two above the league maximum for the regular season. Miami has been exploring trades to trim both its potential luxury tax burden and roster, with Andersen and backup guard Mario Chalmers widely mentioned as being expendable.
At the start of free agency, Heat president Pat Riley said his goal was to return last season's team largely intact and make a run to contend with Cleveland and Chicago, among others, for the conference title. Those hopes were derailed last season, when Bosh (lung clot) and McRoberts (knee surgery) missed the final months to recover and Wade was out of the lineup for 20 games.
That made beefing up the roster a major priority this offseason, even amid the possibility of paying a heavy luxury tax penalty for the excessive payroll.
"I just want to keep the team and hope the team can stay healthy," Riley said. "I believe they will (stay healthy). I think all of the players are coming back highly motivated and, I think, with a complete roster that we can contend in the East -- and I mean contend high. We're going to go for it."
Stoudemire had also garnered interest this offseason from the Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Spurs and Suns, the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2000. But he also has connections in Miami, where he has maintained an offseason home for seven years and recently took courses at the University of Miami. Stoudemire was in the same prep graduation class as Bosh in 2002, played with Wade on the 2004 Olympic team and was also teammates for one season in Phoenix with Dragic.
Regardless how the rotation shakes out, Stoudemire is confident and comfortable with the Heat.
"I think [Riley] knew how important it is for me to win now," said Stoudemire, a central Florida native who entered the NBA directly from high school. "I believe the team we're establishing can be a contender in the East for sure. Plus, me playing back in Florida, I have a lot of roots and family and friends. I thought it would be a great fit back in my home state."