Amare Stoudemire is headed to the New York Knicks, and both sides are hoping he's not coming alone.

The Knicks said Monday they intend to sign the longtime Phoenix big man to a contract later this week when the free-agent moratorium period ends. Agent Happy Walters said the deal is for the maximum allowed, which would be nearly $100 million over five years.

Stoudemire said he looked forward to rebuilding a franchise and bringing the Knicks back to the top -- maybe with a player such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade with him.

"I feel great about being a pioneer and showing my leadership," he said at Madison Square Garden, where signs throughout the entrances showed the player pictured in a Knicks uniform and reading "Welcome, Amare Stoudemire."

The deal can't be signed until Thursday.

It was a desperately needed score in free agency for the Knicks, who spent two seasons clearing enough cap space to afford two top players. They met with James, Wade and Chris Bosh last week and believe they could still land one of them.

Stoudemire has already started recruiting, saying he spoke to James' people and directly to Wade last week. And he said he won't be affected if those players say no to New York.

The move reunites Stoudemire with Mike D'Antoni, his former coach with the Suns.

"He's a dominant offensive player for sure, in a variety of ways," D'Antoni said.

As for the others ...

• James offered no clues about his highly anticipated decision after making an unexpected appearance -- and getting in a few full-court hoop games with good friend Chris Paul -- at his Nike skills academy at the University of Akron. Asked on his way out if he had anything to say, James pointed toward a reporter in the balcony, smiled and shook his head in amusement. He then drove away in a white Bentley.

• As Wade moved closer to deciding his future, he returned to Miami and was seen entering the Heat's arena with team owner Micky Arison, who wants to pay the six-time All-Star around $127 million for the next six seasons. Heat officials remained optimistic their star isn't going anywhere, but for his part, Wade was still contemplating his future. "Not there yet," agent Henry Thomas said.

• Dirk Nowitzki said he only needed to hear that the Mavericks are serious about upgrading the roster during the next four seasons, and that's why he agreed to a discounted contract with owner Mark Cuban during the weekend. "My heart's here," Nowitzki said of Dallas.