It doesn’t seem long ago that Amare Stoudemire sat in front of New York media, donned an orange and blue New York Knicks cap and pontificated that, “The Knicks are back!”
That was three years ago. Stoudemire was right — the Knicks are back, but with little help from him. Sidelined by knee troubles and a cracked fire extinguisher, Stoudemire has largely missed out on the Knicks’ emergence as a top team in the Eastern Conference.
The big man will work out with Hakeem Olajuwon this offseason for the second summer in a row. He will look to improve on the promising post game he debuted last season.
Still, it seems as if Stoudemire is perpetually injured. And with two years remaining on his 5-year $100 million contract, it’d be difficult for the Knicks to trade him. In fact, the team reportedly was shopping him with a very low asking price last season. There were no takers.
So, New York is stuck it seems with the man who not so long ago declared the franchise’s return to prominence. Now, his hefty contract and corroded knees appear to be blocking the team from further improving.
The Knicks are significantly limited in what they can do this offseason, given their poor salary cap situation. And as evidenced by their second-round playoff exit, the roster needs noteworthy retooling.
The Knicks’ best option is to keep Stoudemire and hope he develops a post-game that even slightly resembles Olajuwon’s. Mike Woodson will need to find ways for the Lake Wales, Fla. native to fit in alongside Carmelo Anthony. Perhaps he will come off the bench.
It would behoove the 6-foot-10 power forward to work on his defense. Stoudemire, a decorated scorer, has historically been a defensive liability. If he wants more minutes next season, he will need to prove he can be a formidable defender.
Scoring has never been a problem for Stoudemire, and it still isn’t — he averaged 14.2 points on .577 shooting last season. The problem has been staying healthy.
His health scared away most teams in the summer of 2010. The Knicks took a gamble on him, anyhow, and now are forced to deal with the repercussions.