It's the $100 million question around New York.
What should the Knicks do with the impending return of Amar'e Stoudemire?
On the surface, it's a great problem to have. How many teams wouldn't want the "hassle" of fitting a six-time All-Star into their rotation?
Then reality sets in.
Teams start to remember the mileage that the 30-year-old Stoudemire has logged on his surgically-repaired knees. Or the lower back issues that have flared up over the past two seasons.
Maybe this won't be such a gift after all.
The Knicks (11-4) have planted themselves in the ranks of the NBA elites. Their plus-7.36 scoring differential is third best in the league, thanks in no small part to the eighth stingiest defense (94.93 points per game) and the best perimeter attack (43.0 field-goal percentage).
This might seem the best possible situation to work Stoudemire back in to the mix, but there's no need for coach Mike Woodson to rush the big man back in to action. The club's doing just fine without him.
But that's the problem. With the Knicks playing as well as they are, how can they not expect a disruption to their flow by bringing him back?
Keep in mind, Stoudemire's attempted nearly 15 field-goals per game over his 10-year career. And he's never been mistaken for a good defensive player.
New York has won games with their passing (23.6 assists per game) and their defense. They've established the exact type of chemistry that analysts thought impossible when the team paired Stoudemire with Carmelo Anthony.
Speaking of Anthony, he's utilized this season to transform himself from a dynamic (albeit a volume) scorer into an efficient two-way player. His move to the power forward spot has resulted in more mismatches and more easy baskets than his quick first step ever could.
So there's a logistical nightmare looming with Stoudemire (a power forward) reportedly nearing his return (around Christmas according to what a source told Marc Berman of the New York Post). Even these Knicks' shooters can't create space if they're sharing the floor with two power forwards and a center.
This may come down to whether the Knicks are adding the Stoudemire of 2010-11 or the 2011-12 version. There was quite a difference between the two.
Though New York added a barrage of veteran pieces over the offseason (including Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby), the drastic change in playing style that this addition will bring isn't the type of problem that some locker room banter or a players-only meeting can solve.
If these Knicks went snooping around their parents' closet for a sneak peak at their Christmas haul, they couldn't have been happy with what they found. And this bad present will unwrap itself on a national stage.
With two years and $45 million remaining on Stoudemire's contract after the 2012-13 season, New York will have a tough time trying to re-wrap this disaster.
All statistics used in this article are accurate as of 11/29/2012.
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