The New York Knicks are off to a fast start this season. They are 12-4 and have their sights on winning the Atlantic Division. However, they've played the entire season thus far without one of their best players. Amare Stoudemire has been out healing from a knee surgery to remove a cyst. The injury was originally suppose to keep him out around two to four weeks, then six to eight weeks and then expanded to rumors flying about his health. Now Stoudemire and the Knicks are targeting a Christmas return to the court.
Amare Stoudemire performed running and shooting drills Friday morning at the Knicks' training facility. He also did some lateral drills with resistance bands to build strength in his legs. It wasn't the first time he's worked out since his surgery but the first time the media was allowed to witness it.
There's a reason for that. Stoudemire will be back wearing the orange and blue sooner than later. He's even willing to do what it takes to fit in and help the Knicks continue their winning ways. He's publicly announced his willingness to come off the bench when he returns.
Love him or hate him, Stoudemire is one of the biggest offensive weapons the Knicks have. Does he get paid too much? Yes. Is he a poor one-on-one defender? Absolutely. Should a 6'10", or 6'11" as he's claiming to be now, power forward get more rebounds per game? Definitely. However, as long as he's a Knicks the team needs to help maximize Stoudemire and all of his talents.
Amar'e Stoudemire plans to return to the New York Knicks' lineup on or about Christmas, sources close to the power forward told ESPNNewYork.com Friday.
"We're going to accept Amar'e back when he's ready to go, and when that is, I don't know. I really don't," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said after shootaround. "That's a great sign he's out running and he's shooting a little bit. We're just going to gauge it as he goes along, and doctors and Amar'e will tell us when he's ready."
If Stoudemire returns as a starter there can be no more excuses. He and Carmelo Anthony need to find a way to mesh and work together now! The Knicks don't want to become more talented because of Stoudemire's return but less effective and lose games they would win without him.
If the Knicks want to maximize Stoudemire's talents and protect his health they will take advantage of willingness to be a team player and bring him off the bench. If they do, the Knicks will have a reserve than no team in the NBA can match up with. He can dominate starter at times. Can you imagine what Stoudemire would do against backups?
Stoudemire would give the Knicks another scorer off the bench along with J.R. Smith and allow a number one scoring option to be on the floor with both the first and second units. Furthermore, the Knicks have Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby — once healthy — to support Stoudemire defensively.
This move would make the Knicks the single deepest team in the NBA. Not to mention, just because Stoudemire wouldn't be starting doesn't mean he wouldn't spend some time with Anthony and the other starters on the floor and it also wouldn't prevent him from closing the game out on the floor with them as well.
What it would do is allow the team to continue doing what they are doing now to be successful, strengthen their second unit and reduce the minutes and wear and tear on Stoudemire's body.
He's been through a lot in his career. He should be blind. He should have problems walking let alone playing basketball. The fact Stoudemire's body has held up this long is a minor miracle. If the Knicks want him to make it through the three years remaining on his contract they need to protect him from himself and reduce his minutes.
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