Sources: Stoudamire, Grizzlies agree on buyout terms
Elite teams such as the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns have already registered strong interest in Stoudamire, with the Celtics ranking as the favorite to land him, according to NBA front-office sources. But ESPN.com reported earlier this week that Stoudamire is also intrigued by the idea of signing with the Toronto Raptors and returning to the franchise that drafted him and gave him the platform to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1995-96.
The Celtics, with no depth at the position behind the inexperienced Rajon Rondo, have been widely expected to add a veteran point guard at the first opportunity. The Suns are equally hopeful of landing the former University of Arizona star to ease the regular-season burden on two-time MVP Steve Nash, but realistically don't have as much playing time to offer as the Celtics do.
The Raptors, meanwhile, have to reinforce what they had considered their strongest position because of the continued absence of T.J. Ford.
A hard hit from Atlanta's Al Horford on Dec. 11 knocked Ford to the floor, sidelining him indefinitely and adding to Ford's history of hard falls and lengthy absences related to spinal problems. Ford is in Houston working with longtime NBA coach and player John Lucas, who also assisted in Ford's recovery from the spinal-cord injury in Milwaukee that cost him the entire 2004-05 season, but no timetable for a return has been established. So with only half of its potent tag team at the point available -- Jose Calderon -- Toronto has been investigating its options.
After beginning the season as the Grizzlies' starter at the point, Stoudamire hasn't played since Dec. 30 and the emergence of rookie Mike Conley. He's earning $4.35 million this season and was due to make $4.65 million in 2008-09, with only half of next season's salary guaranteed.
Although terms of the buyout weren't immediately available, it's believed that Memphis was asking Stoudemire to surrender a significant portion of next season's guaranteed $2.3 million to secure his release.
Memphis initially resisted Stoudamire's push for a buyout, hoping instead that it would get a good trade offer from one of the interested suitors before the Feb. 21 trading deadline. But the Grizzlies relented when they found their trade possibilities underwhelming.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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