Amar'e Stoudemire wants more from the New York Knicks.
No, not more money; more playing time. It's just unclear if he'll get it.
Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, admitted the six-time All-Star was unhappy with the way this past season ended, but believes next year will be better (via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News):
Amar'e Stoudemire’s agent said the veteran forward is unhappy with the way the season ended for him and the Knicks, but that Stoudemire believes he’ll play a bigger role next year.
“You know Amar’e, he’s going to work as hard as he can during the offseason,” said Happy Walters, Stoudemire’s agent. “It was a tough year, but Amar’e is already looking forward to next season. He’ll be ready.”
The power forward's work ethic has never been a question. His ability to remain healthy is a different story.
Amar'e appeared in just 33 total games for the Knicks this past season (playoffs included) and in just 51 total contests the year before (playoffs included). Since arriving in New York, he has battled knee, back and even lacerations, and just hasn't been able to remain a consistent fixture on the floor.
When he was on the court for the Knicks this season, he proved to be a valuable offensive weapon. After working with Hakeem Olajuwon over the offseason, he gave New York its only true low-post scoring threat outside of Carmelo Anthony.
Through 29 regular-season games, Stoudemire was the only player in the NBA to average 14 points in fewer than 25 minutes per game. His per-36 minute averages of 21.8 points and 7.7 rebounds put him in the company of LeBron James as the only two players in the league (minimum 20 games) to post such marks while also shooting better than 55 percent from the field.
Really, that's no surprise. Stoudemire has always been able to score at an All-Star caliber level. Once again, it's his health that has been issue.
Injuries have prevented Stoudemire from making a consistent impact on the floor and also cost him his starting job. He came off the bench in all 33 appearances this season.
Following the Knicks' Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers, Stoudemire made it clear he wants that role back.
"We didn’t give it a chance," Stoudemire said of reentering the starting lineup (via Marc Berman of the New York Post). "We need to understand exactly what my style of play is and what I bring to the table. It’s something I have to sit down with Coach Woody and express to him."
Mike Woodson and Amar'e had the opportunity to sit down and speak with each other during New York's exit interviews, but Isola notes the former wouldn't commit to making Stoudemire a starter next season. Nor should he.
Stoudemire's frustrations are understandable, but he has to realize he hasn't given the Knicks much to work with. How was Mike Woodson supposed to reinsert him into the starting lineup when he appeared in just 29 regular-season games? And how was he supposed to do that in playoffs, when Stoudemire was only just returning from injury?
Had STAT not be making roughly $20 million, Woodson probably wouldn't even have played him. There's no use disrupting your team's chemistry at that stage of the season.
Not only does it remain unclear as to whether 'Melo and Stoudemire can coexist in the same starting lineup, but Amar'e is likely to be on a minutes cap (even if it's unofficial) for the rest of his career.
Starters are expected to log heavier minutes in most cases. If Stoudemire's knees cannot handle the workload, then he shouldn't be starting, especially after he proved to be a force off the bench when healthy. End of story.
Well, actually it's not. This game will drag on. Just like it always has. And just like it always will.
*All stats from this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference unless otherwise attributed.