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NBA Rumors: Amar’e Leaving NBA for Jerusalem?

Amar’e Stoudemire leaving NBA to play in Jerusalem? … Willie Cauley-Stein returning to Kentucky … Andrew Bogut out indefinitely

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Stoudemire Planning to Play in Jerusalem?

Amar’e Stoudemire might say “Shalom’’ to the NBA and play for his Israeli team in Jerusalem after his contract expires after next season, The Post has learned.

Stoudemire is part of a four-man ownership group, including superagent Arn Tellem, that purchased 60 percent of Hapoel Jerusalem last summer and turned the franchise into the top team in the Israeli league at 20-7.

“We’ll see,’’ Stoudemire told The Post. “You can’t rule anything out. The future is unknown and so if I have an opportunity to [play in Israel] and am still in great health, it would be great. I have one more year left on my deal and we’ll go from there.’’

via Marc Berman of the New York Post

Stoudemire will earn $23,410,988 next season, making him the Knicks’ highest-paid player, and then his contract will expire in the summer of 2015.

If he continues to play like he has over the final month of the season, he’ll have plenty of potential suitors when he becomes a free agent, which would make his decision to walk away from the NBA for Jerusalem somewhat surprising.

But even though he’ll likely attract interest from NBA teams as a free agent, it’s unlikely that a team would be willing to give Stoudemire a lucrative contract since at that point he’ll be nearing 33 years old with an ugly injury history. Because of this, he may have a tough time finding a contract that entices him to stay in the NBA versus playing in Jerusalem to boost his team’s profile.

This is clearly something that Stoudemire has seriously considered, as he has talked about it with Israeli-American Ori Allon, who heads the Hapoel ownership group.

“We’ve discussed it in the past,’’ Allon told The Post. “It would be tremendous and unbelievable but it’s still early. I think it’s a real possibility, but he played very well this season so it’s up to him.”

Cauley-Stein Returning to Kentucky

I’m proud to say I’m coming back for my junior year. I still have an empty spot to fulfill and in no rush to leave the best fans in the USA!

via Willie Cauley-Stein on Twitter

Just like last year, Cauley-Stein is passing on the chance to be a likely first-round pick to return to Kentucky.

He hinted that he might return to school after the Wildcats lost the national championship game to Connecticut, and he officially announced his decision yesterday. Cauley-Stein tweeted the news and then released a statement through the school.

“I want to come back and have a chance to win a national championship, while also getting closer to earning my degree,” Cauley-Stein said in a statement. “Being at the Final Four this year was special, but not being able to help my teammates on the floor was tough. I look forward to helping us get back there next year, while playing in front of the best fans in the nation.”

Cauley-Stein averaged 7.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks during his sophomore season. He was a strong defensive presence for Kentucky, blocking and altering a ton of shots down low. His 166 career blocks ranks sixth all-time in program history.

The 7’0 center had to miss the final three games of the NCAA Tournament due to an ankle injury, which seems to have contributed to his decision to return since he didn’t want to go out watching from the sidelines.

Bogut Sidelined Indefinitely

The Golden State Warriors suffered a major blow to their playoff run when they learned Monday that starting center Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely with a fractured rib.

Bogut said he’s been advised the rib is too close to his right lung for him to play through the pain because he would risking puncturing the lung. He originally suffered the injury against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday and it became worse in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He took a pain killer before Sunday’s game, but the injury worsened in the fourth quarter.

via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports

This really hurts the Warriors entering the postseason, as Bogut is a key contributor who will be tough to replace. Bogut has averaged 7.3 points, 10 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this season, and he has been Golden State’s defensive anchor.

Bogut is out indefinitely and he was wearing a sling before the Warriors’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

“It certainly doesn’t make us a better basketball team, but we move forward,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson told Yahoo! Sports. “We are a no excuse team. It’s going to be a great opportunity for somebody else, somebody else I believe in. … Certainly with how hard [Bogut] has worked and how much a professional he has been and how much he means to this basketball team and our success, it’s certainly disappointing.”

Bogut has suffered a number of injuries in recent years, and he’s clearly frustrated that he can’t catch a break.

“I’m going to dedicate the summer to learning how to play while avoiding contact at all costs, I guess – moving out of the way, not taking charges and not trying to block shots,” Bogut said. “All of my injuries have been high-impact injuries. I put my body on the line to try to take a charge or a block a shot, and unfortunately, I’ve been on the tail end of them. There are some players in the league who are very good strategically at avoiding contact, so I guess I need to watch them and bring that into my game.”

The Warriors will be starting Jermaine O’Neal, who has filled in at center a handful of times throughout the season. David Lee is working his way back into the lineup as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Festus Ezeli has missed the entire season up to this point as he recovers from offseason knee surgery, but he may be able to play soon. Golden State is 10-4 without Bogut this season.

 

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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