When the Knicks traded half their team away in the middle of the 2010-2011 season for perennial All-Star Carmelo Anthony, many people speculated that the newfound tandem between he and Amare Stoudemire would lift New York to new heights. The NBA was beginning its shift to star-fueled franchises and big-three mentalities, and the Knicks were building their own powerhouse. Anthony’s relentless scoring ability would soften the interior, take double-teams away from Stoudemire and the team would flourish with two offensive machines.
But speculation is just that. When these two took the court, the Knicks sputtered. After Anthony was acquired in late February, New York’s hyped roster only strung together a 14-14 record to close out the season. If you want to chalk that up to chemistry, fine. Both players were still feeling each other out, finding a way to make this two-headed monster work.
The Knicks went into the lockout-shortened season last year with high hopes for the duo, but if you watched the two on the court you’d see that they were just flat-out awkward together. They had trouble finding ways to share the ball effectively. Both wanted to be “the guy” on the team, but there was only enough room for one. Stoudemire’s numbers dropped off significantly, posting his lowest scoring average, 17.5 points per game, since his rookie season.
And there wasn’t much presence on the other side of the ball, either. Stoudemire struggled even though he had defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler sharing interior duties, and he wasn’t quick enough to guard the perimeter when teams spread the floor.
While the Knicks made the playoffs, they went just 22-25 with Stoudemire in the lineup compared to 14-5 when he sat. In the last month of the season, Anthony emerged as the leader and catalyst of the offense, averaging nearly 30 points per game. Stoudemire, on the other hand, faded late and cost the Knicks any slim chance they had at knocking off the Miami Heat in the first round after he punched a fire extinguisher and injured himself following their Game 2 loss.
Then there’s the whole contract issue. The Knicks paid Stoudemire big money ($100 million over five years) to be the face of the franchise back in 2010. He hasn’t nearly lived up to that number and his persistent, deteriorating knee injuries make this look like one of the worst contracts in the league. So here’s a guy who is no longer the scorer he used to be, still can’t defend, has bad knees, doesn’t mesh with Anthony and eats up an enormous amount of cap space.
Oh, and the Knicks are 5-0 without him this season, leading the league in points per game and points allowed while he sits and nurses his brittle bones back to health for the next six to eight weeks. New York won’t need his services any longer.