I specifically waited until after Game 2 to write this post. I wanted to view the relationship one more time on such a large stage before passing what I would believe is a final judgement.
Then, Game 2 happened. Amar’e was non-existent. He punched a fire extinguisher. We all know the story by now.
In my mind, the question has thoroughly been answered. However, I think the question was answered a long time ago, and most fans didn’t recognize that it was. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the question was unfair to ask.
Why was the question unfair to ask?
Because Amar’e Stoudemire may be finished.
I’m not overreacting. I’m really not. Look, when the Knicks signed Amar’e to the massive five-year, $100 million contract, the team couldn’t get insurance on his knees. His knees were never going to magically get better, especially if nobody thought he would last long enough where they would guarantee the Knicks contract on him.
Once Amar’e took the court as a Knick, Mike D’Antoni began to ride him. All of it came to a head in December of ’10, when the Knicks were riding hot, fans were chanting MVP for Stoudemire each time he got fouled, and New York became a basketball city once again. By all means, it was a great month for Amar’e in New York, probably the best month he’ll ever enjoy here.
In 13 games, Amar’e put up 29.8ppg, 9.7rpg, 2.7bpg, shot 53.6% from the field, 80.6% from the line, and was the center piece of the Knicks offense, taking over 22 shots a night.
But, you know what else Amar’e averaged? 39.5 minutes a night.
Since December of 2010, its all been downhill, even pre-’Melo. He dipped to 25.7 in January on 45.6% shooting in January, then 24.3 in February and March. Former Saints defensive coordinator is now famous for the phrase “If you hit the head, you kill the body”, but for basketball purposes, if the legs go on you, everything else will suffer. That’s seems to be the case for Amar’e. He’s half the player he was when he first came to New York, and its because Mike D’Antoni ran him into the ground at the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
So, getting back to my original point, its not that the Carmelo Anthony-Amar’e Stoudemire marriage will never work. Its that we were unfair to put such high expectations on it when Amar’e is simply not the player he used to be. He isn’t the All-Star he used to be, or offensive force. Its not that ‘Melo is being selfish on the offensive end and not getting Amar’e involved. Its that Amar’e can’t be as involved because he can’t do the things he used to.
Amar’e could still be a useful piece for the Knicks moving forward. However, Mike Woodson may need to take a page out of the Memphis Grizzlies playbook. Maybe the best use for Amar’e is as a sixth man, allowing ‘Melo to roam freely on the court as the dominant force he is, and allow Tyson Chandler to control the paint without an extra body getting in his way. Carmelo, in his head, felt like he needed Amar’e to be involved in the offense early on this season, then realized he doesn’t have the skill set to be that involved, and made a move in a different direction. However, we as fans weren’t as quick to pick up on it, and that may be our fault.
It’s not that the Carmelo-Amar’e marriage didn’t work. It’s that it didn’t have a chance in the first place. And that’s on us.
And, Mike D’Antoni.