Amar'e Stoudemire to play in Israel next season

Amar'e Stoudemire announced at a news conference on Monday that he's playing next season in Israel.

Stoudemire will join Hapoel Jerusalem as an active player on a 2-year deal. As part of the agreement, Stoudemire will sell his shares in the team to president and majority owner Dr. Ori Allon

Stoudemire is scheduled to travel to Israel next week as part of an NBA Cares initiative organized by the first Israeli to ever play in the NBA -- Sacramento's Omri Casspi -- and has taken a great interest in the country over the past few years since revealing that he has Jewish roots on his mother's side.

Last Tuesday, Stoudemire signed a contract with the New York Knicks and was immediately waived in a move designed to allow him to retire as a Knick.

"I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that," Stoudemire said Tuesday in a statement. "Carmelo [Anthony], Phil [Jackson] and Steve [Mills] have continued this quest, and with this year's acquisitions, the team looks playoff-bound once again. Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, always a Knick."

Stoudemire, 33, averaged 18.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 846 games over 14 seasons with Phoenix, New York, Dallas and Miami. The 6-foot-10 big man was named an All-Star six times and selected to two All-NBA first teams after turning pro out of high school, rising to prominence first as the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 2003, then as part of a devastating pick-and-roll combo with Steve Nash.

‎The Suns released a statement congratulating Stoudemire on his career, saying: "Amar'e's eight seasons with our franchise provided some of the most exciting Suns basketball this city has ever seen. Off the court, Amar'e represented himself with integrity and class every step of the way, leaving an indelible impression on countless kids in our community. We're proud to have called Amar'e one of our own and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement. Congrats, STAT!"

Stoudemire played parts of five seasons in New York, signing as a free agent in the summer of 2010. His Knicks tenure was marred by injury, but Stoudemire is credited for signing with New York at a time when other big-name free agents weren't seriously considering the club. He averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds and was named to the All-NBA second team in his debut season with the Knicks.

‎"For parts of six years, Amar'e Stoudemire was the face of the New York Knicks franchise because of his excellence on the court and his dedication to our community and our fans across the world," said Knicks GM Steve Mills.

"When Amar'e asked us to retire as a Knick, we were honored to oblige."

ESPN's Ian Begley contributed to this report.