Amar'e Stoudemire is reportedly getting closer to returning to the floor, but the New York Knicks can't afford to throw him into the starting lineup when he does.
According to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com, Stoudemire went through a "strenuous" shooting workout on Tuesday, and it's possible he may return by the end of December.
Jason Kidd said as much, per Begley's report, noting, "I think he's very close to around the corner to getting involved and playing, so maybe at the end of this month."
But, given the way the Knicks have been playing lately (with Carmelo Anthony at power forward, I might add), inserting Stoudemire into the starting lineup when he returns could disrupt the obvious chemistry that is radiating throughout the team right now.
There were chemistry issues between Anthony and Stoudemire last season. That's not to say they can't be resolved, but this is not the time to attempt to do so.
The Knicks are 16-5, coming off a 100-97 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, and they rank in the top 10 in points per game (102.6) and points allowed per game (95.3). Anthony is playing out of his mind, averaging 27.7 points (second-best in the NBA) while shooting 47 percent from the floor and 45 percent from downtown.
Anthony has been labeled a selfish player in the past, but the Knicks are running seamlessly under his control. He is clearly the leader of this team right now. This is his team, not Stoudemire's.
Begley reported on Nov. 29 that Stoudemire wouldn't mind coming off the bench. That should be end of story.
You put Stoudemire back in the starting lineup and you risk disrupting the chemistry the Knicks have developed. You bring him off the bench and he only strengthens the team in the second unit, making them dangerous at any point in the game.
Stoudemire's return could make the Knicks better or worse. It's in Mike Woodson's hands.