Amar'e Stoudemire’s goal for next season is simple.
He wants to get back to being a dominant player.
“My goal next year is to have an All-Star-caliber year to get back in the All-Star Game,” Stoudemire said recently on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike.” “And then be a great team player for my teammates in addition to contending for a championship.”
If Stoudemire does that, new coach Derek Fisher will be a very happy man. Fisher needs to maximize what he has on the Knicks’ roster knowing that team president Phil Jackson probably won't make significant upgrades until 2015. So that means the Knicks will need help from what they already have.
Stoudemire played in 65 games this past season, averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. Mike Woodson had Stoudemire start the season cautiously on a minutes restriction to preserve his knees.
Stoudemire came on strong toward the end of the season. He averaged 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in March.
If Stoudemire can come close to those numbers and play 60 or more games again this coming season, that would be a nice bonus for Fisher’s squad. How the first-year coach will use and rest the power forward remains to be seen.
Stoudemire believes he will improve on last season because he can concentrate on improving his game this offseason as opposed to spending most of his time rehabbing.
The Knicks will need somebody to be an inside presence to go with Carmelo Anthony, provided Anthony returns, and Stoudemire believes he can be a force again.
“My focus is at a high level right now,” Stoudemire said. “My body feels great, and I’m out to prove the doubters wrong.”