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Schmeelk: Stoudemire’s Knee Issues Won’t Destroy Season

(credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

(credit: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

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By John Schmeelk
» More Columns

The season hasn’t even started yet and the Knicks have already received bad news.

I’m sure the franchise wanted to put 2011-12 behind them, but for now it looks like the new season is merely a continuation of last year. Amar’e Stoudemire will be out for another six to eight weeks, and the Knicks will have to stay in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference without their second-best player.

In typical fashion, panic has erupted all over Twitter in regard to Stoudemire’s injury. To a certain extent, I get it. Without Stoudemire, the Knicks can’t even think about challenging the Heat in the East.

Fortunately, Stoudemire will likely be back before the calendar turns to 2013, and will play 50 games if the surgery solves his left knee issues. The problem is that there are no guarantees that it will.

Knicks fans have every right to be nervous about the long-term health of Stoudemire’s knee.

The injury is on the same knee Stoudemire had microfracture surgery on back in 2005. The debridement procedure will clean out the stray pieces of tissue that came out of his ruptured Baker’s cyst. All of these things are a sign of arthritis. There’s a chance the surgery won’t help the underlying condition and his arthritic knee either keeps him out indefinitely or robs him of his athleticism.

If that happens the Knicks are in a ton of trouble, and there’s nothing I can write here that will make any sort of difference.

We can have the debate as to whether the Knicks should have saved their amnesty clause for Stoudemire rather than using it on Chauncey Billups. I’d say Tyson Chandler is enough of a difference maker to warrant the move, but for others, hindsight is 20-20. This Stoudemire knee situation was the exact scenario the amnesty clause was designed to keep a team safe from, and the exact situation the Suns might have predicted when they refused to give Stoudemire more than a three-year deal. All the Knicks can worry about is managing his knees for the next three years and making the best of it.

I’m not quite sure why fans and other NBA analysts don’t believe the Knicks can win without Stoudemire in the short term.  They went 14-5 without him in the regular season last year. I’m not naive or stupid enough to think they are better without him, but they can be successful with him out of the lineup.

Without Stoudemire, the team automatically becomes better defensively. Whether it is Kurt Thomas or Rasheed Wallace at power forward, they will be better in man-on-man and help defense. It will also give Mike Woodson the opportunity to use Carmelo Anthony a bit at power forward, somewhere he had success, even if it was overrated, last year. The Knicks will play small to make up for Stoudemire’s offense by playing J.R. Smith and Steve Novak a little more. Chandler will be the primary dive man on the pick and roll. Either Kurt Thomas or Rasheed Wallace can succeed with the pick and pop.

There’s no doubt the Knicks can’t reach their full potential until Stoudemire is on the floor and 100 percent healthy, playing with good chemistry alongside Carmelo Anthony. That’s how the Knicks become an elite A-level team.

With this injury that becomes more unlikely, though not impossible.

Stoudemire works hard and will do everything he can to return from this injury. If his body allows it, he will be a dynamic power forward once again. Until then, the Knicks can and will survive.

They did it last year and they will do it again.

You can follow me on Twitter here for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports.

Do you think the Knicks are done for without STAT? Be heard in the comments below…