Big news came out of NY this morning courtesy of ESPN New York, who’s reporting from close “sources” that Amar’e Stoudemire will have absolutely no problem accepting a bench role if asked by coach Mike Woodson.
“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.”
“He just wants to win,” the source says. “He sees how well they’re playing and just wants to help. He’ll be fine with whatever they want to do.”
There’s been a strong contingent of Knicks fans that are convinced our frontcourt of Melo, Stat and Chandler cannot work togather, citing spacing issues and the losing record Stat and Melo have together thus far. While that is a fair point, you can easily counter that by stating the majority of that losing record came under Mike D’Antoni. Under Woodson, the pair have a winning record together. So the question becomes does Stat automatically lose his starting job next month? Or do we give this team, who over the last two years has never been at full strength for any significant period of time, a final chance to make it work?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but from my perspective the middle ground is the best solution. With his mobility severely hampered by the surgery, throwing Stat right back in the starting lineup when he’s nowhere near game shape would be unwise. One look at the Lakers and Dwight Howard’s struggles to get back on track since his back surgery should be a good indicator of the arduous process ahead. And we saw last year with Amar’e’s back that it took him until after the All-Star break to get any semblance of a rhythm.
Stat should be coming off the bench, at least initially, until he gets back into condition. His offense is less erratic than JR Smith’s (who’s currently our needed but streaky spark for the second unit). With our nice trio f point guards (Kidd, Felton, Prigioni), there’s many different lineup choice the Knicks can go with. Not to mention, the majority of the teams out there would struggle with finding backups able to containing Amar’e. That either forces their starters to come in early, or Stat helps maintain or build leads. And in crunch time, Stat can still be out there as an extra weapon.
Now what happens if Amar’e, using his own favorite word, does “”phenomenally,” ala a James Harden in OKC, off the bench? Do we keep him there or see if he does even better in the starting lineup? If… and it’s a big if, Melo can hold up to the pounding he’s been taking at power foward, then NY probably shouldn’t tinker with what’s working great (and I don’t think Woodson would). However, when we are meeting big frontcourts like Grizzlies, then Stat should be in the starting lineup without question.
One thing’s for sure is that this team needs Stat. Last year, in what was arguably his worst season, the man still averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds. How we handle Amar’e’s comeback will have immense significance on how this season will turn out. Get well soon, Stat…