Amar’e Stoudemire is Done With The Knicks

Amar'e Stoudemirex-large

Amar’e Stoudemire’s star-crossed career with the New York Knicks is over. On Sunday Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported the Knicks and Stoudemire reached a buyout agreement just prior to the All-Star Game that would allow the veteran big man to become a free agent. The 32-year-old forward has not been the explosive, franchise-level talent the Knicks had hoped to secure when he signed a five-year, $100 million deal during the NBA-changing summer of 2010. Terms of the buyout were not disclosed, but Amar’e will likely make the full amount of the $23.4 million he is owed this season.

Stoudemire will be courted seriously by several Western Conference contenders, but his impact on the team he decides to join will not likely change the face of the NBA championship race. Amar’e, who averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds in 24 minutes a contest for the Knicks this season, sadly remains a bit player at this point in his career because of numerous back and knee injuries. Stoudemire came off the bench for 22 of the 36 games he played this season for the Knicks, who currently are working with the NBA’s worst record.

This is a far cry from the play that New Yorkers were introduced to when Stoudemire joined the franchise. The big man’s work in 2010-11 was MVP-worthy, as he racked up 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game while helping lead the Knicks to their first playoff appearance in seven years. The February 2011 trade for Carmelo Anthony, pitched midway through that season, took away from Stoudemire’s effectiveness as the two never truly jelled. An NBA lockout and the re-emergence of the back and knee injuries that influenced the Phoenix Suns not to compete for their former All-Star’s services as a free agent in 2010 then combined to turn Stoudemire into a shadow of his former self. Because of persistent back woes, neither Phoenix nor New York could insure Stoudemire’s guaranteed salary in 2010.

As a result, Stoudemire missed 72 out of a possible 148 contests in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He returned to work 65 games in 2013-14, but started just 21. Stoudemire has averaged just below 24 minutes a contest, less than half a game, over the past three seasons.

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who heard of the buyout just minutes after taking his turn in Sunday’s All-Star Game, lamented “losing a friend,” and credited Stoudemire for New York’s brief turnaround and three playoff appearances during his time with the franchise:

Amar’e brought something back to New York that New York was kind of missing and needing for a long time. When he came, he brought back some excitement for the game of basketball here in New York. There was hope when he came back. People started believing in the New York Knicks once again. He was the main reason for that belief and for that hope when he first got here in New York.
Nobody can fault Stoudemire’s effort in his hopes for a full return, however. Amar’e has been diligent and professional in his attempts to work his way back from injuries that could have left him despondent and in street clothes far fewer times than most players would have submitted to. Outside of an embarrassing show of temper during the 2012 playoffs, Amar’e has been exacting in his offseason approach, working his way through a back injury that has plagued him since his second season and knee woes that necessitated a microfracture procedure all the way back in 2005. He has never complained about the constant Knicks turnover, and whoever signs him this season will be taking in a consummate pro.

Early indications put the Los Angeles Clippers, working with a miserable bench, amongst a pack of potential suitors that will also include the Dallas Mavericks and the same Suns team that drafted Amar’e in 2002. Stoudemire, even when healthy, has never been a good defender, but he can still score in the post and remains a knockout pick-and-roll option. Stoudemire’s rebound rate is as high as it has been in nearly a decade, and he’s developed into a clever passer even while working on a Knicks team that is often bereft of offensive options.

It’s sad to suggest, but Stoudemire will join a long list of well-heeled New York Knicks stars who didn’t quite work out. Still, Amar’e was not to fault for falling short. Perhaps the Knicks should have erred on the side of caution as the Suns did in 2010, letting Stoudemire go just weeks after he nearly led them to the NBA Finals, but it is important to remember that Amar’e played brilliant basketball in his initial turn with New York. On top of that, the Knicks had to make a splash after punting away a few seasons to clear cap space prior to being passed over by free agents such as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and even Joe Johnson.

With New York running with the league’s worst record and working with a rookie coach, it’s important for the Knicks to try out potential future rotation additions, and the 32-year-old’s presence on the bench isn’t helping either side.

A parting of the ways was the best solution. What intrigues, as the NBA stands just a few days away from its trade deadline, is the potential impact Stoudemire will have on his next choice of team.

Written by Nick Endress

Nick Endress

Nick the Quick Endress is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?