Thursday, May 10, 2012
Amare, Knicks face offseason of uncertainty
By Ian Begley
Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks' wounded superstar, walked slowly off the floor after picking up his sixth and final foul on Wednesday night.
It was the bitter end of a brutal night for Stoudemire.
In foul trouble all night, the Knicks power forward finished 14 points and just four rebounds -- or two fewer than Mike Bibby -- in 31 minutes.
Afterward, he was asked if his injured left hand -- the hand he lacerated by hitting the glass encasing of a fire extinguisher at American Airlines Arena ten days ago -- was bothering him.
"I felt OK. I got hit a few times, but I'm all right," he said.
He couldn't say the same about his team though.
The Knicks enter the offseason with more questions than answers after their second straight first-round exit.
And figuring out what to do with an injured and less-than-effective Amare Stoudemire is just one of them.
There's also the matter of hiring a head coach. It seems like a mere formality that Mike Woodson will be back next year, but nothing's set in stone until Woodson signs on the dotted line.
And then there's the issue of Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire playing together.
The Knicks' two stars played well in Game 4, but by and large, Anthony and Stoudemire have gotten in each other's way for the past year and a half.
Just look at the numbers: New York fell is 32-41 when Anthony and Stoudemire share the floor, including 1-7 in the postseason.
In general, Anthony seems to shoot better when Stoudemire's out of the game because he has more room to create. Stoudemire seems to thrive in an offense predicated on ball movement, while Anthony is at his best in isolation.
Late Wednesday night, Stoudemire was asked if he thought he and Anthony could thrive together.
"There’s no doubt I think it will work. Just have to see what Coach Woodson’s going to do to make it work," Stoudemire said.
Does Woodson have to augment his offense to make it work? With Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin out due to injury, Woodson's Knicks relied heavily on Anthony to score, feeding him the ball in isolation again and again.
Tyson Chandler hinted that that offensive philosophy needs to change -- drastically -- in the offseason.
"I think we have to ... work on an offense with a nice pace to it, a nice flow where everybody touches the ball," Chandler said. "They’re going to get their shots (he said of Stoudemire and Anthony), but we've got to make sure we get other guys involved, get ball movement, and let them finish plays.
".... It has to be a team effort, it cant be individuals," Chandler added, "Because when you play as individuals you don’t get very far."
Lin seemed to run the offense that Chandler was describing when he took over at point guard in February. But will Lin be back next year? He is a restricted free agent next year and is expected to be re-signed.
If Lin is back, can he help the Knicks get past a team like the Heat? Miami isn't going anywhere, so New York will likely have to go through their South Beach rivals if they want to win a title.
Anthony, somehow, is confident that the Knicks can make that happen.
"In the future, I feel good about competing with the top teams in the Eastern Conference," he said. "I do consider our team being up there, top 3, top 4 teams in the East. But we've just got to get better and go from there."
That process will start this summer, when the Knicks enter an offseason with more questions than answers.