Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Knicks Blessing in Disguise

After Monday's 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat Amare Stoudemire vented his anger on a nearby fire extinguisher that was encased by glass. By now you probably know that S.T.A.T. suffered a laceration in his hand and will miss game 3 of the series and likely more. Since the incident the media has had a field day about how Amare was angry because he didn't get enough shots (9 to Carmelo Anthony's 26), and that this incident just summed up how dysfunctional the Knicks were. I also read multiple articles about how this was the permanent downfall for the Knicks, and that any hope of winning the series was now gone. This is where I beg to differ, in fact, the Knicks will do better now that Stoudemire misses a game or two. According to 82games.com and a little math calculation I did myself, when Carmelo Anthony is on the court and Amare Stoudemire is not, the Knicks outscore their opponents by 14.67 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile the Knicks lose by an average of 1.22 points per 100 possessions when both Amare and Melo are on the floor.
There seems to be a couple reasons for this, the first obviously being that Carmelo and Amare do not coincide well on offense as they both are isolation plays who do not do a very good job of interacting with the team. Stoudemire and Anthony are also both poor defenders so when they are both on the court the team defense goes from above-average to slightly below the norm. Another important factor is that when Amare is not on the court, Carmelo slides to play Power Forward where he can create mismatches with his superior speed and quickness. With Amare out of the game the Knicks can utilize lineups with combinations of Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries, J.R. Smith, Landry Fields, and Iman Shumpert (if healthy) at the wing positions. Smith and Novak both space the floor for Melo while Iman and Jared can play shut down defense and Landry Fields a little bit of both. With this lineup flexibility and Baron Davis playing some quality basketball at the point, even without Shumpert the Knicks can give the Heat a tougher game. Don’t get too much hope though New York, without Shumpert and with Amare probably only missing two or three games, I don’t see you pushing this series too more than six games. All I am saying, is that the Knicks play better without Amare, and the media has completely framed this story the wrong way.
Now that the world knows that the Knicks are more successful with only Anthony on the court, the question becomes, what to do with Amare? Ideally the Knicks would have kept Chauncey Billups, used their amnesty on Amare, and seen if they couldn’t lure Chris Paul to New York, but instead their going to have to settle for plan B. Amare carries a lot of baggage, what with his monstrous contract and shaky injury history he certainly doesn’t seem like a building block for the future for any team. However that does not mean an almost contender wouldn’t try to get him and push them over the top. Now no team really jumps to mind as a good fit for Amare. Both Orlando and New Jersey seem like good options, but neither of them have the pieces if they don’t give up their superstar. Dallas is another place that is pursuing some talent, but they don’t have enough to match the Knicks salary concerns while giving them quality talent. Finally, we have the Golden State Warriors. They are by no means a perfect fit, but with their trade for Andrew Bogut, you can tell they have no problem acquiring big contracts on injury-prone big men. I tinkered around on espn.com’s NBA Trade Machine, and the deal eventually worked out. Golden State would give the Knicks David Lee and Dorell Wright for Amare Stoudemire. For Golden State this gives them a nucleus of Curry, Bogut, and Stoudemire that can compete with the West’s big front courts while giving them some of the star power they have been looking for. For the Knicks this also works out well. If the trade were to go through, the Knicks could potentially start Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, Dorell Wright, Melo, and Tyson Chandler with Lee, Smith, Fields, Davis, Jeffries, and Novak giving New York a deep bench along with some quality starters. This would allow Anthony to play the four while Wright spaces the floor, and for David Lee to return to New York where the Madison Square Garden fans used to love him. If the Mike Woodson, James Dolan and the Knicks staff look at these numbers, I don’t see how they wouldn’t try to make a move to get rid of Stoudemire.
For now though the crazy fans of New York can be happy that Carmelo and crew will at least make it a close game with the Heat and realize that Amare not getting enough touches is not the problem, instead it is Amare being on the court that is slowly bringing the Knicks down.

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