Amar'e Stoudemire Is Still a Better Fit for NY Knicks Than Pau Gasol

Ciaran Gowan@@CiaranGowanContributor IIIDecember 18, 2012

Jan 9, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Knicks center Amar'e Stoudemire (1) tries to get by Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) in the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 109-87.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Even if it's just speculation at this point, you just knew there was going to be talk around the NBA about a possible trade of Amar'e Stoudemire this season.

Coming off a career-worst year, and on an unfavourable contract, Stoudemire has been rumoured as a potential trade piece for months.

With Mike D'Antoni taking over in LA last month—and Lakers forward Pau Gasol subsequently struggling to fit in—suddenly an avenue opened up that may lead to Stoudemire's eventual exit.

The contracts match up almost seamlessly, so on the surface a Stoudemire-for-Gasol trade seems like a reasonable idea.

Not for the Knicks, though.

Despite all the injuries, struggles and turmoil that have come with Stoudemire over the last 12 months, he's still a better fit than Gasol, and a player who will make a big impact when he returns from injury.

Both players have been playing badly—at least in relation to expectations—recently, but this is less the case for Stoudemire than for Gasol.

As bad as last year was for STAT, he still put up 18 points and eight rebounds per game. That came despite a litany of injuries and the death of his brother, not to mention the Knicks' lack of a true point guard for him to work with.

Whilst things haven't been perfect for Gasol in Tinseltown either, his 13 points and nine rebounds per game this season are much more to worry about.

More to the point, Gasol has been declining for a while now. Though he has remained an elite power forward these last few years, his numbers have been going down in multiple areas.

Meanwhile, for Stoudemire, his regression hasn't been a trend. Really, Stoudemire has had just one bad season, and we shouldn't be so quick to forget that it was only in 2010-11 that Stoudemire was a genuine MVP candidate.

Though Stoudemire is more injury-prone, he is two years younger than Gasol, and as insignificant as that may seem, those years could make a big difference considering how small the Knicks' championship window is.

From a more tactical perspective, Stoudemire also provides the Knicks a greater pick-and-roll threat than Gasol. So long as he's healthy, Stoudemire should rekindle his partnership with Raymond Felton and we all know just how deadly they can be as a pair.

If he can find his jump shot again, Stoudemire is a player who can help spread the floor a bit with his mid-range game. When he has it going, Stoudemire is just as much a threat driving to the basket as he is shooting, and this is something that will fit nicely on a Knicks team that has embraced ball movement to this point.

With Tyson Chandler and his limited offensive game in the middle, the Knicks need a power forward who can be consistent from a little further out, and Stoudemire could be that guy. Based on early season form, it certainly isn't Gasol.

What's also important to consider is chemistry. The Knicks have really established something under Mike Woodson, and though he's yet to play a game, it's important to note that Stoudemire was present for most of training camp to get accustomed to the system.

Stoudemire will obviously be a major piece to try and integrate midseason, but to integrate a player like Gasol—who wasn't at Knicks camp and has yet to play with any of these players—would be even harder.

More importantly, the Knicks owe it to Stoudemire to not try and move him after a bad season.

STAT was the man who triggered the building of this talented roster, and without him it's safe to say that the Knicks wouldn't be where they are right now in the Eastern Conference.

He put New York on his back in that first season and is clearly a player who is willing to do what it takes to win for this franchise.

Stoudemire worked so hard in the summer with Hakeem Olajuwon and is still a very talented player; giving him up for a worse fit like Gasol just wouldn't make sense.

As nice as Gasol may sound to some, Stoudemire is the Knicks' guy, and it's about time the franchise established some continuity.

Last year may have been bad, but Stoudemire is a player who could surprise people once he's back in action and without a doubt help the Knicks on this championship run.


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