Tag Archives: Knicks

Amare’s Ailing Knees Are Killing The Knicks

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Amare Stoudamire was supposed to save the Knicks. Now he is holding them back.

When the New York Knicks made the decision to sign Amare Stoudamire to a five year, $99.7 million dollar contract in July of 2010, it was absolutely the right thing to do considering the direction the Knicks were trying to go.  Former President Donnie Walsh already had Head Coach Mike D’Antoni in place and reuniting Amare with D’Antoni made perfect sense. Knicks fans were hungry for change, and when LeBron spurned them, the organization felt like they needed to make a splash.

And in the beginning… Amare was a tidal wave…

78 games played in 2010-2011. 25.3 points per game on 50% shooting. He controlled the paint with 8 rebounds per game (2.5 offensive) and 2 blocks per game. He shot 79% from the free throw line on just under 8 attempts per game. He was an MVP candidate on the “New” New York Knicks. The final piece of the puzzle fell when the Knicks acquired Melo from Denver, and BOOM! The Knicks make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 (when they were swept by the Nets, led by Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd. Fun fact).

But in the end… the only number that mattered was 36.8.

That was Amare’s minutes per game that season. The wear and tear of exactly 82 games took its toll on his already surgically repaired knees.  The 2010-2011 season will probably be the last time we ever see Amare Stoudamire play quality basketball for the Knicks or anyone else for that matter. Since then he has played in 47 and 29 games in consecutive seasons. He is currently out of the lineup for the Knicks and it doesn’t look like he is coming back any time soon.

Amare is absolutely killing the team when it comes to the salary cap. The Knicks still owe him $21.7 million dollars next season and $23.4 million dollars the following season. He made $19.9 million dollars to play 29 games this season as a bench player for the Knicks. He started 0 games. None.

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Carmello Anthony and Tyson Chandler would not be in Knicks uniforms if Amare Stoudamire didn’t sign in 2010.

The best move the Knicks made in recent years was to sign Amare Stoudamire. At the time of the signing, it immediately made the Knicks a relevant franchise again.  It legitimized the Knicks as a contender in the Eastern Conference and gave them the confidence to go ahead and trade their young talent to Denver to get Carmello Anthony. I don’t believe that the Knicks go get Melo if they didn’t have Amare there first (that’s a whole other argument).

Where the Knicks went wrong was the 2011 off season. The Knicks knew about Amare’s knees, yet went ahead and used their newly acquired Amnesty Clause that was negotiated into the new CBA by the players association on Chauncy Billups’ contract that would have expired after the season anyway. Yes, they were able to sign Tyson Chandler because of it, and he ended up being the Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA, but they could have made this happen without using thier reprieve.

Looking back, this is what the Knicks should have done. Instead of re-signing Billups for $14.2 million dollars prior to the lockout, they should have simply let him go as a free agent. That would have left them with hole at point guard, however, it would have allowed them to sign Tyson Chandler and still keep that Amnesty Clause in their back pocket.

They should have known that the Stoudamire contract was going to end this way because of his injury history. It was a chance they needed to take in order to get where they want to be, but as soon as they found out that they were going to be able to shed one contract without penalty, they should have immediately thought of Amare’s knees and his $20+ million dollars. Now the Knicks are stuck with Amare until the 2014-2015 season is over. Even worse is that Carmello Anthony will have to play out his prime years with the Knicks without a true superstar as a compliment because they will never be able to afford it.  The Miami Heat are already better than the Knicks, and with Amare Stoudamire’s contract holding them back from getting another superstar, it doesn’t look like the Knicks will overtake them anytime soon.

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Breakfast: Knicks Struggling Out West

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

Tyson Chandler has started all 62 games for the Knicks this season (Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post via Getty Images)

In a month nothing but the Heat will matter in the Easter Conference, so for now let’s talk a little Knicks. Boy, November feels like ages ago; when Rasheed Wallace was backing down fools in the Garden and teams were still lazy on defense. But as they begin their annual slide down the East standings, the Knicks are hurting right now in more ways than one.

It’s more than watching Tyson Chandler crumpled on the floor before the half of last night’s 23 point loss in Denver. It’s more than Carmelo, in his first game back in Denver, was awful from the field, clearly hindered by swelling in his right knee. It’s way more than Amare Stoudemire, who, despite playing somewhat effective basketball for the past three weeks, is back in a suit and will never be a consistently healthy athlete ever again.

The Knicks, in the midst of a brutal five game road trip, are being exposed as mentally weak as well as physically unstable. This is the second consecutive game that was over in the 3rd quarter, and they still have to travel to Portland and Utah, who are combined 43-19 at home.

Between those games is a matinee with Lob City, maybe the worst matchup for the Knicks right now. The athleticism and youth of the Clippers might make Kenyon Martin pass out.

Kenyon Martin. We need to talk about the Knicks rotation right now. This roster is filled with jump shooters, but now that the Knicks are running out of big men, there’s no way this team can compete. James White is getting more minutes, but from what I’ve seen thus far is best skill is without a doubt fouling. Iman Shumpert looks to be getting back to full strength, but his offensive game is so limited right now he can’t be the primary weapon on the floor. And that leaves me with J.R Smith, the man I’d never want to play a game of pick-up hoops with.

Smith is one of the NBA’s most frustrating scorers. The definition of streaky, Smith will occasionally make an improbable highlight-reel worthy shot, giving him liberty to jack up 20 more. But now with all the injuries, Smith has gone from a spark off the bench to depending on his shooting to generate offense. And it just isn’t working.

Have the Knicks been quitting? That’s not fair to say. But this team desperately needs rest, and they aren’t going to get it right now. The Knicks have one of the oldest rosters in the NBA, and right now it is a glaring flaw. Because not only to the best teams in the league right now have youth, most of them like to run. A lot. And from what I’ve learned, old guys don’t run like young guys.

I’m not saying the Knicks won’t make the playoffs. Hey, if they end up paired with the Hawks or Bulls, they might even grab a win or two. But this is a fighter on wobbly legs. And whether they realize it or not, they just can’t seem to punch back as strong as before. We’ll update this situation as we learn more about the knees of Melo and Chandler. Stay tuned.

Dinner: Please Excuse My Bias

Why New Jersey is Undoubtedly the Best Place for Professional Sports Fans!

With no major cities, poor fan attendance, and the reputation of the Jersey Shore, I can’t blame the Nets for hightailing it to Brooklyn. Of the remaining 4 teams that play their home games in New Jersey, only the Devils give credit to this great state. Regardless of those teams trying to pass themselves off as New York, evidence suggest there is no better place to be a sports fan than the Garden State.

I guess I should start with my biases. Yes, I was born and raised into a sports family in North Jersey. To make matters worse, I have lived in New Jersey 22.5 of my 23 years alive. I currently live in Seattle where I have access to one of the greatest NFL fan bases, the 12th man, but this isn’t about fan dedication. This about the rivalries, the proximity, the allegiances, the anguish, the pride, and most of all, the championships.

New Jersey has an identity crisis. For sports fans, you are quickly launched into 2 options, each with their own set of sub-options, like a “Choose Your Adventure” book for a sports fan. First, a fan decides if he will be loyal to his local teams or idiotically support an out of town club based on nonsensical logic and a lack of mental clarity. Most fans choose the former. But the great part about New Jersey is plethora of choices. If you live in the south, choices are more limited, but they still need to be made. Southern Jersey calls Philadelphia their city, so it comes to no surprise that they like the Eagles and Phillies. Where it gets tricky is hockey. Do you support the Flyers? Or show pride in the one remaining New Jersey team there is, the Devils? As for the Northern folk, each sport has its decision. Giants or Jets? Knicks or Nets? Rangers or Devils? Heck, even the Islanders are in the mix! With these options come countless combinations of fans, creating quite a mix of loyalties amongst friends. Couple that with the closeness of the Philadelphia fans and you have yourself a sports war-zone.

The war-zone is what its all about. At any time in any part of the state, there are two people who are butting heads over the outcome of a game. Friendships can be divided during football season but come back together for baseball. Sure, Seattle has great football fans, but who can I talk trash to here? Who can I demean when there are no Jets or Eagles fans? I miss being close enough to hear my neighbors scream with despair as their precious Rangers drop in the Conference Finals to the Devils. I miss taunting Jets and Mets fans with the recent Championships of the Giants and Yankees. Sure, I have been on the losing side before, but those heckling calls and degrading banter is what makes sports more than sports. My teams here are my identity. Unlike 4 sport cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Boston, we don’t rally together around our teams. We don’t all share a pint over our loathing Red Sox and discuss our hatred for the Yankees. We are a state divided, shit talking our way to our friends and neighbors all the way to the title. And we like it that way.

Not only are there many teams in the area, but they all have extreme pressure to win. This means spending major bucks, even if it does still go to Bobby Bonilla. For the first time in my life I am living in a small sports market, and it surely is eye opening. The Seahawks make it to the playoffs and fans here act like they won the Super Bowl. The Mariners have no money to make any move than re-sign their one worthy asset, Felix Hernandez. This is something I can’t get used to. Where is the winning culture? Where is the money? As a Yankees fan, I am used to throwing money at anyone and anything who can help bring a 28th ring. As a Giants fan, anything short of a Super Bowl is a failure. This sentiment is shared across New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, making each year either glorious or heart breaking.

It has always bothered me when people think I can’t be a real Yankees or Giants fan because I live in New Jersey. As if some redneck living in upstate New York has more of a claim those teams. As if some Manhattan douche who arrives late and leaves early in his Ralph Lauren sweater vest can say he is more of a fan because he pays the Manhattan premium on everything. Well, when these people are hitting the tunnel traffic while getting to the Giants game, or getting herded like cattle into the public transit, just think of New Jersey and my relaxed, non-state-border-crossing ride home.

Is there anywhere else that comes close to New Jersey in Sports? Sure. But it’s just that. Close. Florida has many professional sports teams that could create a similar sporting paradise. But Florida teams have some of the worst attendance, their state demographic is split evenly between AARP members and swamp people, and their teams aren’t ever relevant except for the occasional fluky Marlins World Series. Shula and Marino still run that state, which says enough. Plus, more fans rather watch the Daytona 500 than any other professional sporting event.  Tim Tebow, save your state!

What about California? With their major cities and abundance of sports teams they have major rivalries and some relevant teams. Well, good argument. However, wearing an opposing cities jersey in any Californian stadium is essentially throwing up a gang sign on someone else’s turf. California fans go past the drunken banter and occasional fight you’ll find in New Jersey. The media has extensively covered the post-game brawls that have left some severely injured or brain dead. Additionally, the only truly relevant teams lately are in the Bay Area. San Diego and Los Angeles have the beaches, but that does little in contributing to the professional success. Want to see an in state rivalry between San Francisco and Los Angeles? Have fun driving 9 hours. In New Jersey, the turnpike runs from Philadelphia to New York in a quick two hour drive (just keep your windows rolled up).

New Jersey has it all: a multitude of winning (or for some, at least the appearance of trying to win) teams, rivalries, convenience, and the hatred from everyone else in the country. You just can’t beat that.

Disagree? Please, try and argue a better place to be a pro sports fan.