By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Knicks took another step in the deconstruction of the struggling team by agreeing to buy out six-time NBA All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, according to multiple reports on Sunday.
Stoudemire had two months left on his contract, but had expressed hopes of landing with a team that had a shot at making the playoffs.
The Knicks would not confirm the buyout following the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, but Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony was already mourning the departure of his teammate.
"I'm losing a friend, a team mate, a guy who I wanted to come to the city and play with," Anthony said after the West All-Stars took a 163-158 win over the East.
"I know what he wants, and you have to respect that as an athlete, as a competitor. You only want the best for your friends and your close ones. He wants to play for a championship..."
The Knicks, who had aspired to making the postseason under new president Phil Jackson, have the worst record in the NBA at 10-43, 26 games behind Atlantic Division-leading Toronto.
Last month, New York traded Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith for a minimal return as they began clearing the decks for a team makeover for next season.
Stoudemire, who was in the final season of a five-year, $99.7 million contract, came to the Knicks as a free agent in 2010 and helped energize the team, but has been limited in recent years due to injuries.
A 13-year veteran with a career scoring average of 20 points a game, Stoudemire is averaging 12 points this season.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)