It feels like we're in a terrible Samsung commercial, as we're all victims of deja, deja, deja, deja vu.
According to Jonah Ballow, Amar'e Stoudemire will be out two to three weeks with a ruptured benign cyst in his left knee.
This projects for STAT to miss anywhere between the Knicks' first four and 10 regular season games. It also marks the second consecutive season in which Stoudemire could miss double-digit appearances.
After missing 19 games during the 2011-12 regular season, many continued the decade-long trend of questioning STAT's durability. Although he is often wrongly criticized, the latest episode in the Amar'e Stoudemire injury saga marks an important time in Knicks' history.
It is time for the team to consider alternatives.
Although some will jump to conclusions about their need for a replacement player, there is another option worth exploring. Albeit unpopular, the best possible move at this moment may just be to delegate Stoudemire to a new role.
The role of Sixth Man.
Maximizing His Leadership
One thing that cannot be denied about Amar'e Stoudemire is that he has superstar level ability. For those looking to debate that belief, put your biases to rest and evaluate history.
2012 was the first time since 2003, his rookie season, in which STAT failed to average at least 20.0 points per game. It was also the first time in his 10-year career in which Stoudemire did not average at least 8.0 rebounds.
A three-game 2006 campaign certainly does not qualify in this statistical evaluation.
With this level of greatness being established, it is imperative that the Knicks do not allow his talents to go to waste. Most specifically, the Knicks cannot allow for Stoudemire's ability to lead to wither away in Carmelo Anthony's shadow.
Don't forget, Knicks fans, it was STAT who led the 2011 team to an improbable 28-26 record.
Upon Anthony's arrival, the team finished with a 14-14 run that led to a 42-40 overall record. Prior to 'Melo's arrival, however, Stoudemire's averages sat at an MVP-worthy 26.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest.
That included a span of nine consecutive games with at least 30 points from Nov. 28th to Dec. 15th. Not only can he play elite individual basketball, but Stoudemire can lead a team as well.
Building Up 'Melo and STAT Separately
After speaking with Stoudemire earlier this summer, I am inclined to believe that he and Carmelo Anthony will patch up their chemistry issues. In turn, the Knicks will thrive with both scorers on the floor and find a balance between their respective tendencies and need for the ball in their hands.
The best route to take in this scenario, however, is not to place them on the floor together from the opening tip. It is to allow each to find their respective shot before bringing them together for the final quarter.
With a shift to the second unit, STAT can find his rhythm as Carmelo Anthony rests. 'Melo can do the same as Stoudemire awaits his opportunity to lead the second unit.
This would create an elevated level of scoring from both men. It would also set up late-game situations in which both Anthony and Stoudemire are working with a full game of establishing their role within the offense.
The point guards will then have developed a full understanding for the two stars' hot spots, as well as the plays they are thriving with during each given game. To put it simply, such a move would enable the Knicks to maximize their superstar players' abilities for the first time since they came together in 2011.
Send a Message
With all of this being established, there is no logical way to keep Amar'e Stoudemire out of the starting lineup for the duration of the season. Although a temporary move to the role of Sixth Man may create a better situation for a return to action, Stoudemire is an elite player and deserves to start.
The fact of the matter is, the Knicks have underachieved throughout the entirety of the STAT and 'Melo era. It's time they send a message and show that a lack of production makes any player expendable.
Even one capable of such extraordinary feats.
With this demoralizing act, Stoudemire and 'Melo will come together and achieve what is expected of them. There will be no room for error, no coach to protect them from the media and no excuses of inexperience to be made.
The Knicks' championship aspirations will become legitimate. At the heart of this will be a risky but effective decision to send waves throughout the entire organization.
Make your stars earn their spot just as the nobodies have.
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