So the incomparable Ian Begley had a big scoop last night, getting information that Amar’e Stoudemire is willing to come off the bench when he returns.
As I’ve previously written, this isn’t a big surprise. However he feels about the move, what was he going to do, go on strike? But it’s still a big deal that he’s letting it be known he’s up for it. A Stoudemire buying in is different than one going along with the plan unwillingly.
Moreover, the Knicks are currently functioning well in his absence, so he hardly had leverage.
But about that functioning: it isn’t hard to see how he could fit in. As I wrote recently, Rasheed Wallace’s role is the perfect one for Stoudemire.
Let’s check in with Wallace, shall we? Great story, nice to see him back, etc. But on the season, he’s shooting 38.8 percent overall, and 31 percent from three-point range. The massive number of threes he’s taking are generally suboptimal offensive possessions, to put it mildly.
Now, replace that with Stoudemire’s production, even last year. Stoudemire would take fewer threes, which again, is a net gain, not a net loss. And Stoudemire is a much more accurate shooter. Even last season, battling back from injury and struggling to find space, he shot 48.3 percent. In the role of second-unit offensive anchor, he is a great bet to exceed that production. He’s a year removed from shooting 50.2 percent, with defenses keyed on him for much of the season.
I mean, let’s not lose sight of how gifted an offensive player Amar’e Stoudemire is. Will he be as great as he was? Will he take some time to get back into game shape? Absolutely. But we’re talking about an elite option the Knicks can use off the bench. This is the kind of luxury few N.B.A. teams have.
Oh, and then there’s this: Wallace is 38, and hasn’t played in two years. He’s already missed time due to injury. Over the course of the season, there’s every chance his performance could degrade from here, rather than remain static.
Time (and really, Mike Woodson) will determine the role Amar’e Stoudemire plays. But there’s every reason to believe he not only can occupy a vital role on this team, but that the Knicks will need him to do so.