Amare Stoudemire needs someone to believe in him

That’s Amare

Warming up for the LeBron James Derby, which may or may not take place this summer, it’s the Amare Stoudemire Derby!

At a low, low bargain price, it’s a dream for any team that can use a 27-year-old starting All-Star center.

There’s one problem, apart from his attitude, which was never his strong point and has cratered amid reports the Suns are trying to move him.

He’s not just a rental. He can opt out, or choose to stay -- at $17.9 million.

You have to believe in Amare, and few do.

A year ago, his old coach, Mike D’Antoni, didn’t raise a finger to bring him to New York.

Suggesting the Suns are near, or past, the point of no return, Stoudemire took 20 rebounds in five games and an Arizona Republic headline asked: “Suns’ Amare Stoudemire playing his way out of town?”

That night he had one rebound in three quarters before Coach Alvin Gentry benched him and they came from behind to beat Dallas.

Still, as there’s a major downside, there’s a huge upside for the right team:

San Antonio -- Why not?

If their standard is the Lakers, they haven’t closed the gap with incremental moves but would with this one.

If attitude has been a problem, it won’t be here. Spurs aren’t allowed to have attitudes.

Cleveland -- Why not?

If J.J. Hickson is good playing off James, imagine Stoudemire with LeBron, who can also handle the leadership part.

And with no cap room and 14 feet of aging free-agent centers, re-signing James could be easier with Amare than without him.

Boston -- No, really.

They’d have to revive their fans, but with their old guys aging by the day, they’re now at Defcon 5.

Red Auerbach, himself, brought in Sidney Wicks and Bob McAdoo.

They didn’t work out, but neither is what they’re doing.

Orlando’s banker

Orlando’s Dwight Howard, who’s too old to be a child prodigy anymore, shocked the Lakers, pulling up and banking in two jumpers in their recent game.

Thursday he scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter against Boston, which held him to a total of 14 in two meetings, in the Magic win. . . . “He went to a face-up game and played finesse,” Kendrick Perkins said. “He made some great shots. He made some tough shots. Any time he hits a shot outside the dots, I’m living with it.”

Forever young

Atlanta Coach Mike Woodson shaved his eyebrows before a win in Houston, appearing afterward with Velcro strips over his eyes, where Josh Smith taped them. “I think he didn’t want to come and tell us how much he really, really wanted this game,” Smith said. “I think it went over well with the guys.” . . . They lost in San Antonio, presumably because Woodson couldn’t think of anything else to shave.

A mature opinion

Leading the usual snits about not making the All-Star dame, rookie-sophomore game, three-point contest, etc., the Cavaliers are once more aghast that three Celtics were selected to their one. . . . Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo over Mo Williams?. . . Not that there are no grown-ups. There’s at least one. . . . “I’m good with it,” Denver’s disrespected Chauncey Billups told Yahoo’s Marc Spears. “Every year there are situations where people deserve it and do not make it, especially at the guard position in the Western Conference.”

-- Mark Heisler