When Amar’e Stoudemire signed a five-year, $100 million deal with the New York Knicks in 2010, it was widely expected that he would be an integral building block in leading the team back to relevancy.
Two years and many missed games later, the former six-time All-Star said he is reportedly fine with coming off the bench if that’s what it will take to help the Knicks win.
Citing an unnamed source who has been around Stoudemire regularly in recent weeks, Ian Begley of ESPN.com reports that Stoudemire, 30, would accept a sixth man role as the Knicks continue to win with a relatively small line-up that often features Carmelo Anthony at power forward and Jason Kidd at shooting guard.
“All he cares about right now is helping the team and winning. He’d be fine with coming off the bench if that’s what they want. [H]e just wants to win. He sees how well they’re playing and just wants to help. He’ll be fine with whatever they want to do.”
The Knicks have also reportedly said that they are reluctant to take Kidd out of the line-up to make room for a bigger starting five that would feature Stoudemire.
He is coming off a year marred by injuries and unfortunate circumstances, from the death of his brother to a hand injury that he sustained after punching the glass around a fire extinguisher after a loss to the Miami Heat in the playoffs. In the preseason, Stoudemire, who underwent microfracture knee surgery in 2005, suffered yet another injury to his knee that will keep him from making his season debut for at least another two weeks. In his 47 games last season, he averaged 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in 32 minutes per game, his worst season statistically since his rookie year with the Phoenix Suns in 2002.
Stoudemire typically scores his points off pick-and-rolls, in isolation plays and jumpers from the elbow. Anthony and Tyson Chandler have already proven to be a winning formula in playing together and are a more potent duo than Stoudemire demonstrated in playing alongside Anthony last season. Chandler and multiple other players and coaches have been quick to admit that Anthony is a nightmare match-up for most power forwards because of his size and agility.
The Knicks, currently 10-4, know the precarious situation in which they would find themselves should they insert Stoudemire back into the starting line-up. The hopes of him becoming the franchise player when the team brought him over from the Suns are now long gone. Instead, the Knicks, now the oldest team in NBA history, may be the owner of the most expensive Sixth Man of the Year in league history.