New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire was allegedly offered up "for free" this past summer to virtually every team in prospective trades over the summer. Although the six-time All-Star was viewed as a key cog to the franchise's future, it's the smart move at this point for GM Glen Grunwald.
Stoudemire is simply too expensive and the Knicks have ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference during his extended absence. Howard Beck of the New York Times originally reported about Stoudemire's shocking availability this offseason:
This past summer, the Knicks offered Stoudemire to nearly every team in the league — “available for free,” as one rival executive put it. But they found no takers because of his diminished production, his health and his contract, which has three years and $65 million remaining (counting this season) and which is uninsured against a career-ending knee injury.
That massive contract Beck refers to is the most critical problem in shopping Stoudemire, and it proved to be too much to overcome in a potential Dwight Howard trade offer. It wouldn't have been able to work out for a swap to acquire versatile Toronto Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani.
Stoudemire's deal is really going to strap the Knicks for cash in the coming years, and the only sensible solution would either be a restructuring of the contract or a trade.
The fact that no team wanted to absorb Stoudemire's lucrative deal makes sense, since he has had microfracture surgery on both knees. It's unfortunate to look to shop him, but it's also the business side of the NBA—which doesn't guarantee loyalty to players.
Here's the overarching ethical dilemma: superstar Carmelo Anthony came to New York in the first place largely because Stoudemire paved the way by being the team's first marquee acquisition back in 2010.
But according to HoopsHype.com, Stoudemire is the highest-paid player on the Knicks' roster, and his salary balloons in each of the last three years of his current contract, culminating in nearly $23.5 million in 2014-15.
That sort of payment obviously doesn't correspond properly his current role with the team and won't even if head coach Mike Woodson decides to experiment with him in the sixth-man role.
Doubt shrouds Stoudemire's future on the court—wherever he winds up finishing out his career. What is likely is that his best days of basketball are behind him, because Stoudemire has more mileage than the vast majority of 30-year-old athletes due to his extensive injury history.
Considering the roll that the 19-7 Knicks are on thus far this season, adding Stoudemire to the fold in a significant capacity doesn't make sense. The team arguably owes it to him to try to prove himself, but he could definitely use a fresh start elsewhere on a team where he could assume a familiar starting role.
One of the most dominant power forwards in the league offensively when healthy, Stoudemire's nightmarish career developments over the past several months may suddenly leave him without a steady job.
Stoudemire may get a huge payday, but in all likelihood won't be a part of the big turnaround for Knicks basketball that he was brought in to initiate for reasons out of his control.
All that money could be used to acquire multiple assets in the next few years, and dedicating that much value to one player who won't be as valuable as once surmised makes Stoudemire illogical to keep in the Big Apple, however unfair to him that might be.