HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — As the New York Knicks have rolled to an impressive 10-4 start to the season, picking up quality wins over the Heat and Spurs along the way, there’s been one thing hanging over them like a dark cloud. Eventually, Amar’e Stoudemire is going to come back from knee surgery, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
When Stoudemire was on the floor last season, the Knicks were much worse than when he wasn’t. He hurt them on both ends of the floor. And if you were to stretch his on-off court numbers over an 82-game season, they were a 64-win team without him and a 36-win team with him.
Knicks efficiency with Stoudemire on and off floor, 2011-12
|Stoudemire on/off floor||MIN||Pace||OffRtg||DefRtg||NetRtg||+/-|
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Chemistry is critical in the NBA, and thus far, the Knicks have never had it with Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony on the floor together, nor with Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
So, ideally (unless some other team is willing to take Stoudemire and the $65 million left on his contract off their hands), the Knicks would bring Stoudemire off the bench and overlap his minutes with Anthony and Chandler as little as possible. But that has always seemed like a tough sell for the team’s highest-paid player and the guy who brought the Knicks out of an abyss by signing with them just two years ago.
Now though, Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that Stoudemire would be willing to accept a reserve role when he returns, a revelation that could make things a lot easier for Knicks coach Mike Woodson….
Amar’e Stoudemire would accept a role as the New York Knicks’ sixth man if asked, two sources with knowledge of Stoudemire’s thinking told ESPNNewYork.com.
“All he cares about right now is helping the team and winning,” said one source, who has been around Stoudemire regularly in recent weeks. “He’d be fine with coming off the bench if that’s what they want.”
Stoudemire hasn’t spoken with reporters since suffering a left knee injury in the preseason. He’s been rehabilitating his knee following arthroscopic surgery for the past four weeks and is expected to miss at least another two weeks.
There has been speculation about what role Stoudemire will play once he returns.
Many believe Stoudemire would be a better fit coming off the bench for coach Mike Woodson’s team. Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have had a tough time developing cohesion on offense — the Knicks have a losing record while the two stars are in the same starting lineup.
Stoudmire’s original timetable doesn’t have him returning for at least a couple of more weeks, but this is great news for the Knicks. Obviously, they have a much different team surrounding their big three than they did last year, when the point guard position was anything but stable. With Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni running the show now, Stoudemire should be more effective offensively.
But the question is how much can he really help? The Knicks currently have the No. 1 offense in the league, a ranking that can only go down. And Stoudemire sure as heck isn’t going to help them defensively, where they rank 14th.