For over two years, Knicks brass have been working towards the summer of 2010. Instead of trying to turn the Knicks into a title contender, Donnie Walsh and company focused on clearing enough salary cap space to lure LeBron James and another top-tier free agent to the Big Apple.
Just when it seemed the Knicks would not be able to land anyone from this star-studded cast of free agents, Amar'e Stoudemire agreed to terms that will keep him in a Knicks uniform through the 2015 season.
As first reported by SI.com, Stoudemire agreed to a five-year, $99.7 million contract.
Although it can't be made official until Thursday, after Stoudemire met with Knicks officials last night, there was a marquee on the Seventh Avenue side of Madison Square Garden that said, "Welcome, Amar'e Stoudemire," with a picture of Stoudemire in a Knicks uniform.
Stoudemire also emerged from his meeting in a Knicks hat and proclaimed, "The Knicks are back!"
Stoudemire will be reunited with his old coach in Phoenix, Mike D'Antoni, and will look to be a force in D'Antoni's high-flying offensive attack.
The Knicks also hope that the signing of Stoudemire will attract LeBron James and possibly others to New York, and have been assured by James' camp that the signing of Stoudemire will not hurt the Knicks chances to land LeBron.
Knicks fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief that they did not strike out in free agency, an idea that is unfathomable to many Knicks supporters. However, Amar'e Stoudemire is not the solution to the franchises' woes of the last decade.
Stoudemire certainly is a positive step towards bringing New York its first title since 1973. The five time All-Star has career averages of 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds and helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals this season, but he does bring some extra baggage with him to the Big Apple.
Stoudemire has had a series of eye and knee problems that plagued him throughout his time with the Suns, and has played in all 82 games only three times in his eight year career.
In 2005, Stoudemire underwent microfracture surgery on his knee and played in only three games. A detached retina in the 2008-09 season limited him to only 53 games.
Stoudemire is not known to be a good defender or rebounder, a concern for many. Stoudemire also has not proven his ability to win without a top-shelf point guard. In Phoenix, most of the offense was centered around two-time MVP Steve Nash and Stoudemire in pick-and-roll sets.
In New York, Stoudemire will not be paired with a Steve Nash-type guard, and it will be interesting to see if he will be the same player that he was without Nash.
The addition of Stoudemire is a step forward, but he is only one piece of the puzzle. Without help, Stoudemire and Knicks fans will soon be wishing he was back in Phoenix.
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